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.
Low-cost Indian carrier IndiGo Monday tweeted that ,due to temporary restriction to operate to Doha issued by the State of Qatar, as a preventive measure in view of coronavirus, flights to/from Doha are impacted,.
Airlines scramble to alter course

Airlines based in some of the countries from where travellers have been temporarily barred from entering Qatar Monday said they were cancelling flights to Doha and making the necessary alterations in view of the government directive. On Sunday, it was announced that entry to Qatar had been temporarily suspended for people from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand with effect from Monday. Accordingly, low-cost Indian carrier IndiGo Monday tweeted that "due to temporary restriction to operate to Doha issued by the State of Qatar, as a preventive measure in view of coronavirus, flights to/from Doha are impacted". "Flights to/from Doha are suspended till March 17, 2020. Please visit 'Plan B' to opt for a full refund. We will be monitoring the situation closely and will share further updates," the airline said. In a statement on its Facebook page, Philippine Airlines (PAL) said the airline "is compelled to cancel all flights to and from Doha from March 11 until March 15" in view of the Qatar government's directive over Covid-19 concerns. The flights cancelled during this period are PR 684/685, Manila-Doha-Manila. Passengers of these flights have the option to request for rebooking/rerouting or refunding their confirmed ticket on or before March 28. "You may choose a new travel date that falls on or before June 30," the airline said. "Please note this is a developing situation. We shall provide updates on flight cancellations to/from Doha." In response to the new restrictions, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said it is temporarily suspending flight operations from Pakistan to Doha until further notice. Any change of booking, refund and/or no-show charges have been waived for all passengers who are booked on Doha-bound flights from Pakistan, and are unable to travel due to the above travel restrictions. This facility is valid until March 31, PIA said on its website. On its website, SriLankan Airlines said it has been "kindly requested to adhere to the Qatar government's statement (on travel restrictions for people from the above-mentioned countries) and abide by the instruction until further notification". For further details, passengers can contact the SriLankan Airlines 24-hour contact centre or their travel agent. As for Nepal Airlines, a flight will be operated from Doha to Kathmandu today and no passengers will be carried from Kathmandu to Doha, it is learnt. Further course of action will be decided today. Biman Bangladesh Airlines has also cancelled all flights to and from Doha in view of the government directive. Also, all services of Lebanon-based Middle East Airlines to and from Doha have been suspended for an indefinite period.

A section of the project
Al Khor Expressway Upgrade Project to be completed by mid-2020

The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is set to complete Al Khor Expressway Upgrade Project by the middle of this year, it is learnt. According to information received by Gulf Times, 96% of the ongoing upgrade works is over and the remaining part is expected to be completed in the next few months. Ashghal had opened vital parts of the project in April last year, including the main carriageway along with Simaisma Interchange as well as interchanges on Al Majd Road and Al Turfa Street as part of the works. These were opened a year ahead of schedule. Started in the last quarter of 2016, the project involves 11.5mn cubic metres of filling and compacting works, 2.3mn tonnes of asphalting and 580,000 cubic metres of reinforced concrete works. In addition to implementing excavation works comprising of 10.87mn cubic metres, the project includes 167km of rainwater and sewage water drainage lines and a 110km pipeline for the irrigation and treated water treatment network along with 160km of electricity and 290km of telecommunications networks, according to Ashghal. In June 2019, a new interchange located at Exit 32 was opened by the authority. The interchange includes a bridge with two lanes in each direction and serves people using Al Khor Road, Al Shamal Road and Al Majd Road coming from Doha and Al Khor, providing direct connectivity to several public and sports facilities and ensuring direct access to the Lusail sports complex, Losail International Circuit, Lusail Shooting Club and Lusail Reserves. Then, in September 2019, Ras Al Noof Interchange and Tinbak Interchange were opened to traffic as part of the upgrade project. The interchanges located in the northern part of Al Khor Road serve many residential areas and vital facilities, including Ras Laffan, Ras Al Noof and Tinbak, as well as Al Bayt Stadium. In December, seven out of 10 interchanges went operational on Al Khor Road after the two-level Wadi Al Banat Interchange was opened in Lusail City. It serves road users coming from Dukhan Road and Al Shamal Road by providing a direct connection to Lusail City and the West Bay area. The two main bridges of the interchange deliver three lanes while the other two offer four lanes. Furthee, the interchange has two loops, four ramps with two lanes each and four underpasses. Ashghal announced the opening of Al Daayen Interchange and the Interchange of North Lusail on the occasion of National Sport Day this year. Al Daayen Interchange consists of two underpasses on Al Khor Road, facilitating vehicles' arrival in Al Daayen, Umm Garn and surrounding areas. The interchange enhances traffic as it accommodates about 8,000 vehicles per hour. It serves a number of vital services and facilities such as the recreational complex, service centre, Al Daayen Health Centre, Al Daayen Municipality and other important facilities. The Interchange of North Lusail ensures easy access to Lusail Stadium and serves Lusail North, Rawdhat Al Hamama, Al Kheesa and Wadi Al Banat. The interchange consists of four bridges, two exit loops and four exits along with four underpasses, and provides free traffic flow to 28,000 vehicles per hour. The Sport Day celebrations also marked the opening of the Olympic Cycling Lane on Al Khor Coastal Road. It was inaugurated by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani. Extending over 33km, the 7m-wide Olympic cycling track will host international sports competitions. With 29 tunnels and five bridges, the track has five car parking areas near Qatar University, Lusail Station, Losail International Circuit, Simaisma Interchange and Al Bayt Stadium, while 1,450 lighting poles have been installed alongside the track. These are in addition to 80 bike racks, 100 benches and 20 rest areas. Al Khor Expressway is expected to "become the centre of development and encourage the population of Doha to move outside the city and reconstruct the eastern areas of Qatar", according to the authority. The project will help draw new investments to the area in fields such as business and agriculture. It is also a major link to Lusail and Al Bayt stadiums and ensures direct access to Al Rayyan and Education City stadiums. Also, it facilitates easy access to the Simaisma and Al Khor youth centres, Al Khor Sports Club, Lusail sports complex and Doha Golf Club. The road ensures enhanced traffic flow to a number of recreational and tourist destinations such as Katara, Simaisma Beach, Al Farkiya Beach and Al Daayen Celebration Hall Complex as well as some of the most prestigious educational institutions in Qatar such as Qatar University, Community College of Qatar, Qatar Leadership Academy, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and College of the North Atlantic-Qatar.

Biryab Biryani and Kebab Festival has been drawing big crowds at Al Bidda Park.
Food lovers enjoy special treat at Biryab Festival

The ongoing Biryab Festival has been winning the hearts of food lovers with a wide array of delectable biryani and kebab offerings. Featuring more than 30 brands, the festival gives visitors the opportunity to try “breathtaking flavours” from places such as India, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and the Levant region.    “Biryani, with its many varieties, is the top priority at the festival. Delicious Kolkata, Hyderabadi, Awadhi, Mumbai, Malabar, Ambur and Sindhi biryani is available here. The festival has been receiving a good response from members of various Asian communities as well as Qataris,” said Sunil Nair, deputy head of Infinity Marketing Solutions & Event Management, organisers of the festival.   Running until March 7, the festival is open to the public from 12 noon until midnight at Al Bidda Park, Wadi Al Sail South. The eateries taking part in the festival include Zaffran Cafe, Royal Tandoor, Afghan Brothers, Spice & Sizzle, Mr Shawarma, Zaitoon Restaurant & Grills, Jabri Sweets, Modern Asian Restaurant, Lahore Fish, Deccan Deewan Restaurant, Rahmath Calicut Restaurant, dGrill Cafe and Restaurant, Bombay Chowpatty, Shawarma Station, Sweetio, Tutti Frutti and Shukran Doha, among others. Named ‘Signature Biryani Therapy’, the exclusive biryani menu at Zaffran Cafe has offerings such as Butter Chicken Biryani, Akhrot Seekh Biryani and Double Dum Lamb Biryani along with innovative items such as Biryani Fries, Biryani Burger and Masala Biryani Soda.  Restaurants at the festival also offer some of the popular street flavours from India as well as various rolls made of chicken, mushroom and prawns. At Royal Tandoor, visitors are welcomed with Afghani and Lahori kebabs along with kebab rolls.  The restaurant also features Karak Paratha, Lotus Paratha, Nutella Paratha, Cheese Paratha and Royal Kesari Jalebi Paratha, among various other delicacies. Visitors can enjoy Mandi, Bukhari and Majboos rice at Afghan Brothers along with Mixed Grill, Fish Fillet, Grilled Chicken and Harees Meat. Spice & Sizzle has come up with samosas, kebabs and various kinds of bread and biryanis. Badami Kulfi and Tandoori Chai have been highly popular among visitors.  With special items such as Tandoori Fish, Lahori Fish Fry and Fish Biryani, Lahore Fish restaurant has grabbed the attention of many food enthusiasts at the festival.  These are in addition to delectable shawarmas available at Shawarma Station and Mr Shawarma.  The 11-day festival offers a “unique opportunity for families and children to spend joyful times since it features a wide variety of entertainment activities for different age groups, such as live shows for kids, and exciting games that include amusement rides”, according to the organisers.

William Grantrnrn
Qatar-US bilateral trade 'increasing'

The relations between Qatar and US are exceptional and the bilateral trade marked an increase of 35% in 2019, the US embassy chargé d'affaires William Grant has said. He was addressing a press roundtable at his residence on Thursday to discuss Qatar-US relations over the past two years of his tenure in Qatar. Grant explained that investment is increasing in both countries. Qatar is investing in the US while the American companies are investing in Qatar. “Qataris tell us that they get good returns on their investments so it’s a win win situation. The US is seeing economic growth and increase in jobs for its citizens. Our business and economic relations are strong and Qatar makes the US feels welcome,” he stated. Grant recalled it has been a fantastic experience living and working in Qatar and his tenure has witnessed several accomplishments. "The relation between the two countries is exceptional and this is the result of strategic decisions, made by the leadership of Qatar to work very closely with the US on various areas. The US embassy works continuously with entities of the government to make progress on a range of issues." The military co-operation between Qatar and the US has strengthened over the last three years, the chargé d'affaires pointed out. "It’s important for the US military to have a good base platform for it's operations. And Qatar provides it. What is very obvious is the airbase . Our air force is extremely happy with what Qatar has provided with,” he said. The US diplomat observed that the two countries also have exceptional co-operation outside the base. “The US Navy and Qatar Navy are doing more together. US naval ships that patrol in the Arabian Gulf stop in Qatar for resupplies. We also see the Qatar military becoming a stronger partner. They work hard to support us in joint operations in the region. We are training pilots of the helicopters that the US has sold to Qatar,” he said. The two countries are working to ensure the protection of workers and a Qatari delegation of judges will visit the US next month for training and exchange experience at labour courts. He hailed Qatar for taking tremendous steps to increase protection of workers and give them the rights they deserve. Grant stated that the US is doing a lot of work to develop Qatar’s capacity. “We have trained labour inspectors here,” he said. The charge d'affaires noted that Qatar Foundation (QF)is a great success, and said the US is glad that six of it's universities are functioning with QF. “We are glad that all six US universities have more than 50% women. The US is contributing to the future growth of Qatar by helping to train the young people to bring the country to the next level,” he said. While asked about the unjust blockade, Grant said dispute is not good and it should be resolved. "The US position is pretty clear. And we say to all our friends that it’s distracting us from more important priorities in the region. We want them to come to an agreement and move on with more important things,” he added.

Umm Lekhba Interchange
Ashghal overcomes unjust blockade obstacles to propel Qatar’s growth

The unjust blockade of 1,000 days has not hampered the Public Works Authority’s (Ashghal) spirit to achieve its goals. Ashghal continues racing towards conquering new heights in the infrastructure development sector. Ashghal, as per the available data, added numerous projects to its credit by setting up expressways, roads, sewerage networks projects and buildings. A slew of innovative projects were launched even as Qatar witnessed the completion of prestigious projects since the siege was enforced on June 5, 2017. Umm Lekhba Interchange  Haloul Interchange The post-blockade period witnessed the total length of the highway network in the country expanding to more than 750km. Impressive developments were carried out on the prestigious Sabah Al Ahmad Corridor while the Al Watiyyat Interchange and new bridges at Makkah Al Mukarramah and Umm Lekhba intersections were opened. These led to improvement in traffic flow at Al Luqta, Al Gharrafa, Al Waab and Al Rayyan areas. Several roads including the Doha Expressway, Lusail Expressway, Al Khor Expressway, Al Majd Road, Al Wakra Main Road, Al Wukair Road, Mesaieed Road, Hamad Port Road and Al Rayyan Road were developed. Ashghal did its part for the 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations by opening ahead of schedule the Al Khor Road and Orbital Highway which provide a direct link with a number of stadiums such as Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Khor Stadium, Lusail Stadium and other sports facilities. Interchanges at Simaisma, Bani Hajer, Pearl, Onaiza and Al Khaleej Al Gharbi were also developed and works for the Mesaimeer outfall tunnel started. Ashghal opened a two-way tunnel on Al Rayyan Road Project along with a new bridge and tunnel on the Al Rayyan Road linking Al Furousiya Street with Al Huwar Street. A new tunnel at Al Gassar interchange and two tunnels at Pearl Interchange as part of Lusail Expressway were also opened. Ashghal also inaugurated the underpass beneath F Ring Road and Mesaimeer Road and Al Rayyan interchange flyover. Works are underway for the first cable-stayed bridge in Qatar, a part of the Sabah Al Ahmed Corridor, which also include the largest intersection, longest bridge, deepest and longest bi-directional tunnel. Ashghal started upgrading of sewage pumping stations at New Salata, Al Mansoura, Al Messila, and Al Rayyan as part of efforts to increase the capacity of the pumping stations by 62% to 211% in order to accommodate both current and future sewage flows. The Al Wakra and Al Wukair Sewage Treatment Plant project that will be implemented through a public-private partnership contract was also launched. Ashghal has completed works of the western branch of the main trunk sewer for the Doha South Sewage Infrastructure Project. In February 2019, excavation of the 10km long outfall tunnel of the Mesaimeer Pumping Station and Outfall Project was started. The outfall tunnel is a significant part of the Mesaimeer Tunnel that will accommodate surface and stormwater received from the drainage networks of Doha. Ashghal also completed the Al Karaana Lagoon Reclamation and Rehabilitation Project that helped the area transform into a healthy natural environment making it a home to a variety of birds. Infrastructure development in the health sector in Qatar also witnessed remarkable achievements in the post-blockade period. Ashghal signed six new health projects with a total cost of about QR1bn. The projects included health centres at Al Khor, Al Wakra South, Al Sadd, Al Mashaf, and Ain Khalid to serve around 3,500 visitors per day. Ashghal has signed a contract to build the National Health Laboratories building. Besides, Ashghal completed construction of the new trauma and emergency department at the Hamad General Hospital. Ashghal is an active member of the Qatar Beautification and Our Kids Planting Trees Project that will develop the country’s green space by 240% by 2022. Five major tasks including the construction of central public parks, provision of dedicated lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, development of the Doha Corniche, development of Central Doha and increasing afforestation and greenery areas are being carried out as part of the project.

From the collection.
Anjali Bhimrajka celebrates elegance of luxurious jewellery

Anjali Bhimrajka Fine Jewels is highlighting the elegance of luxurious jewellery at the ongoing Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition (DJWE).  The luxury jewellery brand with an “alchemical sense for extracting the beauty within a design” is being showcased in the India Pavilion at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), alongside Mehta & Sons. “We are sure that our collections can strike a chord with jewellery lovers in Doha, especially local customers. We are well-prepared for DWJE and have come up with an exclusive collection that will suit the tastes of Qataris and customers in Doha,” said founder Dr Anjali Bhimrajka.  Expectations are high with Anjali Bhimrajka Fine Jewels and the brand looks forward to drawing the youth. “We are rich with exclusive collections for the young generation. We are here with modern and contemporary jewellery that’s stylish for the youth,” she noted. Anjali nurtured her passion for jewellery design with a certification from the Gemological Institute of America and her firm is now one of the most well-regarded creators of contemporary fine jewellery. Anjali Bhimrajka Fine Jewels’ designs are special with unique finishes. It has diamonds in various finishes and models, including rose-cut diamonds. Golconda diamonds, Colombian emeralds, Burmese rubies, Basra pearls, Kashmir sapphires, Paraiba tourmalines and Baltic amber are set in 18- and 22-carat gold.  Among the highlights is Sinuosity, featuring a snake that represents an ancient part of nature that has stood the test of time as a symbol of fluidity and the primal force of life, and a Bodhi bracelet and ring. The booth also has natural asymmetry that includes a secret garden bracelet, verdure eartops, trellis bracelet, cherry blossom earrings, periwinkle eartops and Pinnidae earrings.  The Pinnidae earrings that are available at the booth are a pave fan of over 2,000 round diamonds fluidly folded over with larger, varied-shaped diamonds. This design is inspired by the delicate variations of molluscs that inhabit the waves and are often peppered across the sand at dawn.  The Gossamer Wing earrings are a veil of exquisitely crafted diamond chips edged by another curtain of diamonds. These earrings weave a fragile mesh of glittering jewels, its translucent effect almost as gauzy as butterfly wings.

The Mehta & Sons and Anjali Bhimrajka Fine Jewels booth at DJWE 2020. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Mehta & Sons showcases dazzling delights at DJWE

Mehta & Sons is making its presence felt at the ongoing Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition (DJWE) 2020 through a special collection of rare gems and diamonds.  The Indian brand is making its maiden appearance in the exhibition.  “We are in Doha with a special collection. We have special manufacturing for Qatari and Arab buyers apart from jewellery that will draw members of the Indian community,” said chairman Narendra Mehta, who has had an affection for jewellery since the age of 16 when he entered the industry following in the footsteps of his father, Mannoharji S Mehta.  According to him, classical jewellery with a beautiful design that suits the tastes of customers is the speciality of Mehta & Sons.  Mehta & Sons is a Forevermark-approved jeweller and its booth is located in the India Pavilion organised by the Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) in collaboration with the Indian embassy in Doha.  The booth features rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, which come in various models and specifications that cater to the varied tastes and requirements of customers from around the world. Among the most attractive pieces at Mehta & Sons are a pair of Zambian green emerald earrings and several other exquisite pieces that make up the jeweller’s bespoke collections. Besides, the Haute Couture Spring/Summer Collection 2020 for Rahul Mishra has also been brought to the exhibition. These are in addition to pieces from the Astral Fleur collection. With a particular focus on multi-dimensional designs, intricate architecture that’s complemented by an electric array of cuts and colours, Mehta & Sons “concretises inspiration into impeccable pieces that delight and uplift jewellery connoisseurs”, according to the jeweller.  “Meticulous attention to detail, paired with maintaining the vital essence of design, Mehta & Sons harbours a rich and intuitive heritage of jewellery making,” the jeweller added. “The brand draws on the legacy of its family patriarch, Sawantrajji H Mehta, who had arrived in Mumbai and founded his jewellery house in 1933.” The booth also features unique pieces such as the Passerine ring, Emerald crane ring, Cacatua ring, Papillion bracelet and the Monarch brooch. Mehta & Sons, along with Anjali Bhimrajka Fine Jewels, is located in booth F5 & F6, India Pavilion, Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Abdullah al-Muftah, general manager, Al Muftah Jewellery; Hussain Mohamed and Alexander A, area manager for Century. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Limited-edition watches among key attractions at Al Muftah Jewellery

A collection of limited-edition pieces has put the Al Muftah Jewellery Pavilion firmly in the spotlight at the ongoing Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition (DJWE).   “The collection of limited-edition watches makes us special and we are sure it will enthuse visitors to grab their favourite pieces,” said Hussain Mohamed, manager, Al Muftah Jewellery.  The limited-edition watches at the Al Muftah Jewellery Pavilion come from Sarcar, Ebel and Movado. “In fact, DJWE gives visitors an opportunity to take these home and give them to their dear ones if they want to,” Hussain said. Since its inception, Al Muftah Jewellery has been a part of  DJWE, where strengthens its relationship with patrons and attracts new customers. “We have built relationships with thousands of customers who are partial to the superior engineering and elegance of established jewellery and timepiece brands from Switzerland, Italy and Germany. These manufacturers are renowned for there heritage and the exquisite craftsmanship of their products,” he explained. Al Muftah Jewellery features a total of 14 Swiss brands at DJWE, and its pavilion has grabbed the attention of watch and jewellery enthusiasts with the rich collection on display. The pavilion includes more than 30 stalls featuring a wide range of watches and jewellery.  The company is among the biggest exhibitors at  DJWE, where it presents the latest and most prestigious collection of watches, diamonds from Belgium, Italian jewellery and other precious gems. Renowned brands such as Movado, Century, Arzano, Zanelle, Renée, Sarcar, Charriol, Ebel, Rizane, Solitaire, Nabil Mouzannar and Moukarzel, among others, are showcased in the pavilion. Jewellery items on sale include necklaces, pendants, bracelets, bangles, earrings, rings and cufflinks, etc. Having a track record of several years in the watches and jewellery sector, Al Muftah Jewellery owns a special place in the market with its high-quality products and service. “At DJWE, we do justice to our legacy and keep our reputation intact by ensuring the best available service to our valuable customers. And we also offer the best prices here,” Hussain said.   The company is celebrating DJWE by unveiling two new models from Sarcar. “It’s an ideal venue to welcome our customers with fresh models. We offer the latest watches that are available in the market,” he said, adding that DJWE help sellers find new markets and sales are going up every year.

The Concord booth and some of the watches on display. PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheed
Exquisite Concord watches beckon visitors at DJWE

The Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) is an ideal venue for watch manufacturers to showcase their potential in terms of innovation and quality, according to a representative of Concord, a participant in DJWE 2020. “There are enough takers for luxury watches here,” he stressed. The Concord booth at DJWE 2020 offers an array of exquisite watches for enthusiasts. Concord has been an exhibitor at DJWE since its inception. Some of the watches on display The Swiss watch company is highlighting the Mariner, Saratoga, Impresario and Delirium collections at the exhibition, available for both women and men. “We have more than 100 'executions' in four families of watches at the exhibition. The charming designs and features enthuse visitors,” the representative said. The Concord Mariner collection reflects a modern sense of style featuring elegantly stylised angles. The Concord Mariner Lady watches are elegant and desirable dress watches with unique features of glamour. The watches that belong to this family come in various models of rose gold and stainless steel. The rose gold-infused models represent the essence of a contemporary marina lifestyle combined with a warm and intimate sense of belonging. The Concord Mariner 200 owns a true marine heritage and reflects the restless and unfettered spirit of the ocean. The Concord Mariner Blue Dial is a classic design, timelessly elegant and a go-to-sartorial choice for any situation. The Saratoga watches are renowned for their high-quality workmanship and luxurious feel. Saratoga Concord is a distinctive new incarnation that embodies the perfect blend of traditional elegance, prestigious association and contemporary design. The 31mm Saratoga Lady is decidedly feminine with a diamond-set case and bracelet and shimmering white mother-of-pearl dial featuring a distinctive stamped centre-zone pattern. The classic woven-link bracelet of Saratoga features a new design with integrated lugs and a more angled appearance. Impresario of Concord is a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity. Concord has revitalised and refreshed the Impresario line with a decidedly contemporary touch. Impresario is rendered in rose gold and white mother-of-pearl, and Impresario Lady adds lustre to the lady watch collection of Concord. The Concord Impressario Gent Moonphase is a comprehensive demonstration of the stunning effect that can be achieved by integrating traditional horological functions into a watch with modern design. Delirium is a revolutionary achievement by Concord in Swiss watchmaking. It’s a true Swiss victory in innovation and technical mastery. A wide range of Concord Delirium watches are available at the exhibition. DJWE 2020 got under way at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre Monday, and continues until February 29.

Snapshots from the Al Wasmi Garden Festival at Katara. PICTURES: Nasar K Moideen and from Katara Twitter page
Al Wasmi Garden Festival ends after wowing visitors

The Al Wasmi Garden Festival at Katara – the Cultural Village concluded yesterday after witnessing a huge turnout of visitors over the last five days. From exquisite floral displays to fascinating garden designs from around the world and a range activities and shows - the festival had lots to offer to visitors of different ages. Adding to the festivities was the daytime fireworks display, which left the visitors mesmerised with a riot of colours. Making the most of the pleasant weather, people thronged the lush green Katara South Hills in large numbers to enjoy the beauty of the festival venue, the different gardens there, the wide range of floral works as well as the specially crafted entrances and pavilions. The international garden designs represented five countries — Qatar, France, India, Britain and Japan. The different activities held during the festival were aimed at raising awareness among people about the world of plants and flowers, and the modern technologies involved in their cultivation, Katara stressed in a statement. It was also an opportunity to highlight the importance of protecting the environment. Twenty stalls were set up at the festival in order to shed light on the world of plants and flowers. They displayed various types of flowers, ornamental plants and cacti. The flower market at the festival presented a wide variety of flowers and ornamental plants for gardening, beauty and home decoration purposes, along with plastic, glass and metal pots in various shapes and sizes. The designs of the gardens displayed at the South Katara Hills demonstrated the rich and fascinating cultures of different countries. In the Qatari Garden, visitors were able to learn about traditional methods used in agriculture and irrigation, such as the ‘splitting into parts’ system, water channels that link fountains to agricultural land. The garden highlighted the Qatari legacy in gardening and farming through flower potting, storytelling, basket weaving, etc. The Indian Garden’s gate design was inspired by the historic landmark, Taj Mahal, and visitors were greeted by a stunning scenery of flowers - including roses - with fragrant scents. Featuring henna as well as umbrella and peacock painting, the garden reflected the “picturesque nature of India amid feelings of calm and tranquillity”, the statement noted. The French Garden, presented by Qatar Airways to celebrate the Qatar-France 2020 Year of Culture, was inspired by the traditional palace gardens in France. It also featured a design resembling the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, besides swirly flower painting and a caricature artist. The Japanese Garden was another key attraction, showcasing the pink colour that inspires comfort and relaxation, as well as flower origami. The gate of the English Garden was inspired by the Buckingham Palace entrance, giving the festival a “distinctive gleam and offering captivating scenes from one of the most famous gardens in the world”. Other highlights included hyacinth flower making and the ‘Gramophone DJ’. Apart from different varieties of flowers, the festival displayed modern technologies related to farming and gardening. The pavilions made visitors aware of the art of designing and taking care of gardens and provided them with knowledge of plants and flowers, their shapes, the nature of their growth, methods of gardening as well as colours to esnure harmony between them. Fountains and water streams also adorned the lawns at the venue, providing a perfect backdrop for photographs. Also, entertainment and educational activities were held for children, with students visiting the festival as part of school visits. The festival also gave an opportunity to visitors to try out different delicacies. Special shows and performances based on well-known tales were held during the festival, much to the delight of the audiences. These included ‘Dina’s Magic Garden Show’, ‘Peter Rabbit’, ‘Alice in the English Rose Garden’, ‘Jungle Book’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. A range of activities were organised for the whole family, including floral art and craft workshops, relaxation areas and live entertainment. The workshops shed light on flower making, pottery, seed planting and mandala painting. Besides, different competitions were held to promote artists and talents. The fireworks display was another major draw, wowing the huge audience that had gathered at the venue. “It was fabulous. The first-of-its-kind event gave us, and others like us, plenty to enjoy,” said one of the visitors. “Everyone in the family loved the festival. From the gardens to the fireworks and the shows - the children as well as the parents loved it all,” added another visitor.

CEO of Qatar Airways Group Akbar al-Bakerrnrn
Eight Qatar Airways planes to carry medical aid to China

Extending a helping hand to China's ongoing efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Qatar Airways will fly eight aircraft carrying medical aid to three Chinese cities on Friday. CEO of Qatar Airways Group HE Akbar al-Baker said the planes will be transporting medical assistance from Qatar government, from Qatar Airways and various other countries and Chinese embassies around the world. Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the 17th edition of Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition on Monday, he said that this step aims to send a message of support from the government and people of Qatar to the people of China, noting that Qatar Airways was the only global airline that offered to transport medical aid to China for free, and it has not stopped shipping operations after the outbreak of coronavirus in China. While two flights will reach the Chinese capital Beijing, three each are scheduled for Shanghai and Guangzhou. The eight flights will take off at an interval of four minutes each. “Qatar Airways is not the only airline to incur losses due to the crisis in China. It has affected others too as China has the largest number of tourists in the world and anything that happens there must affect and reflect on the movement of tourists to and from China," al-Baker explained. He added that the services to China were suspended not only due to the coronavirus outbreak, but also due to challenges being faced in operations as many countries have announced the ban on entry of crew that operate services to China. Exuding confidence that the crisis will be sorted out soon, he said that Qatar Airways is currently studying options for modifying the operating systems to separate the crew of aircraft that go to China and other countries.

Akbar al-Baker, Secretary General of the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) and CEO of Qatar Airways Group and Director of Exhibitions at QNTC Ahmed al- Obaidly addressing the press conference.  PICTURE: Ram Chand
Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition to start on Feb 24

*This year's edition marks a 65% increase in the number of exhibitors and 12 % growth in exhibition space The 17th Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), which will be held under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, will start on February 24 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). Announcing the details of the show, Akbar al-Baker, Secretary General of the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) and CEO of Qatar Airways Group said at a press conference on Monday that 127 exhibitors from 14 countries and over 500 local and international brands will participate in the prestigious event, which has seen a 65% increase in the number of exhibitors this year. Among the participants are 18 Qatari designers including five newcomers who will showcase 16 jewellery brands. With the growing popularity of the prestigious event, this show's area has been expanded to ??more than 33,000 sq m, marking a 12 % growth in exhibition space. International exhibitors will make up more than 58% of the total number of vendors. Along with local Qatari designers, they will showcase more than 451 brands of watches and jewellery, providing a unique opportunity for luxury-seekers to learn about the latest products and innovations from the most renowned brands in Qatar and the world, all under one roof. Al-Baker said the DJWE has become a major destination for seekers of luxury and elegance from around the world. “It enables direct interaction between brands and customers. New brands are launched and the latest products and releases of some of the world’s best-known names are unveiled. The exhibition has contributed to reinforcing Qatar's position as a host of international exhibitions, and plays a critical role in supporting Qatari talent by providing a platform for them to market their products, launch their brands and gain crucial experience through contacts with the most prestigious players in the field,” the QNTC Secretary General said. DJWE occupies a distinguished position as an international exhibition and a leading destination that attracts aficionados of the world of fine jewellery and watches and lets them enjoy the latest trends and the most prestigious brands and interact with them. The activities and events that take place during the exhibition are inspired by a mixture of craftsmanship, beauty, heritage, passion and originality. The exhibition was the platform from where the Young Qatari Designers Initiative was launched. This initiative provides a unique opportunity for promising Qatari talents to showcase their distinct designs and creations in one pavilion alongside the most prestigious brands in the world. "We continue to develop the business events sector and enhance Qatar’s role in achieving its goal of sustainable tourism development, which is boosted by Qatar's world-class event management capabilities and facilities. We also continue to diversify tourism products in line with our target source markets,” al-Baker said. This year’s exhibition, for the first time, will include a Turkish pavilion that features 11 Turkish brands, in addition to the return of the Indian pavilion for the second year in a row with 28 brands, which is more than double the number in 2019. The Indian pavilion will display wide and distinctive varieties of the latest and finest Indian jewellery that has been crafted to suit all tastes and occasions. DJWE will showcase a number of exclusive pieces designed by famed global brands such as Tag Heuer and FPG, in addition to the participation of world-renowned diamond brand De Beers, which comes to Doha for the first time ahead of the opening of its first Qatari branch at Al Hazm. Among the highlights is the participation of Qatar Watch Club, which will exhibit a collection of rare collectables and limited edition pieces and the participation of the prestigious French Objective Horlogerie group, which will provide various workshops, including a watch care workshop organised by the group for the first time in the Middle East. The exhibition also provides consulting services by certified experts, gem specialists, and specialists who will provide free appraisals to visitors looking to buy jewellery at the exhibition, in addition to various educational and interactive activities. A global media campaign is run in target markets in advance of DJWE featuring Sonam Kapoor as the face and the guide for visitors on their journey to beauty. The campaign was launched in 16 markets including Kuwait, Oman, the United Kingdom and France and it’s expected to reach 450 mn viewers, listeners and readers through social media and TV channels such as BBC, CNN, Sky News UK, Fashion TV, Kuwait TV and others. The press conference also witnessed a signing ceremony between QNTC and QNB, which will be one of the key sponsors of this year’s edition. The 17th DJWE is organised with the partnership of Qatar Airways as airline partner, the JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha as hotel partner and Qatar National Bank, amongst other partners and sponsors. This year’s edition also witnesses the continued participation of some of Qatar’s premier jewellery patrons, at the forefront of which are Al-Fardan Jewellery, Al-Majed Jewellery, Ali Bin Ali Jewellery and Watches Group, Amiri Jewellery, Fifty-One East, Al Muftah Jewellery and Blue Salon.

Major General Mohamed Saad al-Kharji, Director General of Traffic, and other officials at the press conference. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Road accidents and fatalities drop in Qatar

Qatar’s efforts to reduce road accidents and fatalities have yielded results with a drop of 2.8% and 8.3%, respectively, during 2019, it was announced on Sunday. Fatal accidents also decreased in 2019, by 13%. The figures were announced at a press conference, convened by the General Directorate of Traffic. Major General Mohamed Saad al-Kharji, Director General of Traffic, along with directors and officers from various departments. Brigadier Ibrahim Saad al-Sulaiti, head of the Statistical Analysis Office at the Ministry of Interior (MoI), explained that the achievement was possible despite the country recording an increase in the number of vehicles by 4.3% and the number of licences going up by 5.5%. As many as 97% of the accidents, recorded in 2019, were minor without injuries while the accidents of severe injuries accounted for 0.3% and those resulting in deaths, 0.1%. In 2019, a total of 154 deaths were reported, as against 168 in 2018. Traffic accidents decreased in 2019 by 16.2% and the traffic accident severity index decreased by 15.8% compared to the same indicator registered in 2018. While comparing various global indicators of traffic accident with other countries, al-Sulaiti said that all of them were lower than global averages. “The accident death rate for every 100,000 people in Qatar is 4.4 deaths, which is lower than the global average of 18.2 deaths by 5.8%. It is also less than the rate recorded in the high-income countries by 47%. Similarly, the traffic death rate per 100,000 vehicles in Qatar is lower than the global average by 85.5% and the traffic accident severity index in Qatar is lower than the global average by 46.7%. It also shows a decrease in the traffic death rate per 1,000sq m from the global average at a rate of 35%,” he said. He added that all road traffic death rates, recorded in Qatar in 2019, show a significant decrease from global indicators and ratios. He pointed out that there was a decrease in the number of traffic accident deaths in the last ten years by 31.3%. A decrease of 60.7% was recorded in the traffic death rate per 100,000 people during the same period. “This proves that the strategies, developed to reduce deaths, have achieved the desired goals,” he said. Al-Sulaiti hailed the efforts of traffic safety partners including the Traffic Department, the National Traffic Safety Committee, ambulance service, the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and other institutions and agencies in Qatar. He said that most of the people who died because of traffic accidents were males (91.6%). Almost half of the people who died in traffic accidents, at a rate of 48.1%, were between 20 to 39 years old. He noted that the drivers ’deaths accounted for 45.5% with 70 cases reported during the period while the number of passenger deaths was 40 cases and this stood at 26%. A total of 44 cases of pedestrian deaths were reported at a rate of 28.6%. The number of Qataris who died in traffic accidents was 42 at a rate of 27.3%. It came down by 6.7% in 2019. The number of the deceased from the Arab nationalities were 31 at a rate of 20.1% while the remaining 81 deaths that accounted for 52.6% were other expatriates. Al-Kharji thanked the officers at the General Directorate of Traffic for their great efforts and called for more effort to maintain the achievements. He said that Ashghal is building pedestrian crossing places, tunnels and bridges and these will work reduce pedestrian accidents. “Fencing on the roads compels pedestrians to cross from designated places only,” he noted. He added that the percentage of pedestrian deaths, which stood at 28.6% in 2019, would reach 0% in the future.

Kahramaa Awareness Park educates visitors through games, cartoon, audios and videos
Kahramaa Awareness Park continues to spread message of conservation

The Kahramaa Awareness Park (KAP) continues to retain the tag of the number one centre while it comes to spreading awareness about rational water and electricity consumption. The Park welcomed 60,000 visitors in 2019, according to figures with the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa). The visitors included students from various educational institutions, public, officials from various departments, employees of various companies, members of various clubs and field experts. KAP educates visitors, especially children through games, cartoon, audios and videos. Visitors are educated about the life cycle of water, wind energy, solar power and kinetic energy. There are models of gas turbine and water recycling on display. At the theatre in KAP, visitors are shown a short educational video about the exciting journey from concept to construction and the introduction to the exhibits and attractions. The Dana 3D Dome in KAP will help visitors explore the history of the universe and the fascinating story of water in immersive 3D experience while a description is given about energy cycle through interactive exhibits here. Under the aegis of National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed), the ambitious initiative by Kaharamaa to bring down carbon emission by spreading the culture of energy conservation, the Park hosted various events. These include awareness programmes, workshops, discussions and training programmes attended by people from various walks of the life. The annual activities-oriented summer camp, organised by Kahramaa, is one of the attractions of KAP. Individuals and institutions can visit KAP by registering on the website.

Staff welcoming visitors to a stall at the International Honey Exhibition, Souq Waqif. PICTURES: Jayaram
Souq Waqif exhibition opens doors to ‘amazing world of honey’

The ongoing third International Honey Exhibition at Souq Waqif is drawing visitors with an array of products, showcasing honey in all its sweet glory. The exhibition, which started on January 30, has been organised by the Private Engineering Office in co-operation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and with the participation of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.  Continuing until February 8, the exhibition features more than 150 companies specialising in honey and related products from 37 countries.  This marks an increase of 25% in terms of participation compared to the second edition last year. Besides honey and related products, the expo also offers nuts and dates for sale.  What makes the exhibition special is the abundance of varieties and flavours, as more than 50 types of honey are on offer. Varieties such as ginger, lemon and clove are available along with white honey, honey mix, pine honey as well as beekeeping accessories. Among the exquisite varieties available is Manuka honey from New Zealand.   The monofloral honey is produced from the nectar of the manuka tree and is commonly sold as an alternative medicine.  “It is purely natural and the richest type of honey, collected from the mountains of New Zealand. It’s known for the healing and curing effective properties,” said Ashraf Fahmy, foreign affairs and import manager of Happy Valley.  The exhibition also throws light on the rich legacy of Qatar in honey production. Some 80 local companies and farms are taking part in the exhibition with high-quality products. The organisers have set up a laboratory where consumers can check the quality of honey. “We ensure the quality of honey sold here by checking whether the products meet the required specifications,” said Abraham P Thomas, laboratory manager.  Besides showcasing local honey, the event is also enabling foreign producers to draw attention to their items. “We are glad to be part of the event for the second time. It gives us the opportunity to explore the market,” said Surjith from India, representing Sruthi Impex.  The event is also helping spectators know more about the honey industry.   “This is not an exhibition for mere commercial purposes. We are educated about the industry and the amazing world of honey,” said Safeer C V, who visited the exhibition with his family.

Ashghal's citizen projects offer boost for developmentrnrn
Ashghal's citizen projects offer boost for development

The Infrastructure Development Projects of Citizens’ Sub-Divisions by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is providing a further boost to the comprehensive development of different places in Qatar. According to data available with Ashghal, the projects being implemented by the authority will provide more than 1,543km of roads and 410km of pedestrian and cycle paths. These are in addition to infrastructure development works such as sewage, surface and groundwater and treated sewage effluent (TSE) networks with a total length of 1,180km. The figures were presented by Noor Ashkanani, from the Roads Projects Department at Ashghal, during a recent function in which new 10 contracts were signed. The data show that the authority implemented infrastructure projects to serve more than 22,000 land plots distributed in 18 areas between 2014 and 2017. Of the developed plots, 20,637 are in existing areas while 1,829 are in new citizens' land plot areas. During this phase, Ashghal completed 23 projects to develop infrastructure in various areas serving 15,108 citizens' land plots while seven projects were completed in Doha North, serving more than 7,000 citizens' plots. Ashghal also completed four projects in the vicinity of Doha while seven projects were implemented to serve more than 4,000 plots in Muaither West (Al Manaseer). These are in addition to five projects in the west of Doha city and four projects to develop sewage networks serving around 3,000 plots, as well as 17 projects to develop roads and integrated infrastructure serving 10,000 plots and two land-grading projects serving almost 2,000 plots. Ashghal’s plan is to implement infrastructure development projects to serve 32,855 land plots between 2018 and 2022. The projects cover over 14 areas and include 24,284 plots in existing areas and 8,571 in new citizens' plot areas. In May 2018, four new contracts, totalling QR1.5bn, were signed to develop infrastructure on plots under the citizens' residential projects in Al Wukair South in Al Wakrah Municipality. In October 2018, Ashghal signed five contracts worth QR2.7bn with Qatari companies for developing infrastructure facilities for 5,192 plots of land in different areas under the citizens’ residential scheme. Then, in May 2019, seven new construction contracts with a total value of QR3.2bn were signed by Ashghal as part of the initiative to serve a total of 3,090 land plots. With a total value of around QR4bn, 10 contracts were signed as part of the project last month. The proposed project will serve more than 8,400 plots across 10 areas in the north, south and west of the country. All the contracts were given to Qatari companies. Upon completion, the projects will provide advanced infrastructure including 223km of roads, 325km of pedestrian and bicycle paths, more than 20,000 parking lots, about 192km of sewage networks, 305km of stormwater and groundwater drainage networks and 142km of TSE networks. Ashghal president Dr Saad bin Ahmad al-Muhannadi had noted that Ashghal gives top priority to infrastructure projects based on directives from the government.

Indian ambassador P Kumaran along with students and community members cutting a cake to mark the 71st Republic Day. PICTURES: Jayan Orma.
Indian community celebrates 71st Republic Day

The Indian community in Qatar marked their nation's 71st Republic Day celebrations at a grand event at the embassy premises on Sunday. The ceremony was attended by a large number of community members from various Indian states, including representatives of various social and cultural organisations, and students from Indian schools who rendered patriotic songs. The event began with ambassador P Kumaran hoisting the national flag. While addressing the gathering, the envoy congratulated the Indian community for their substantial contributions to Qatar. Indian ambassador P Kumaran hoisting the national flag  A section of the audience at the event Students presenting patriotic songs  The ambassador, who pointed out that the number of Indian expatriates in Qatar has reached 750,000, said that achievements were possible through the dedication of the pioneering Indian expatriates in Qatar. “The Indian community owes much to their predecessors for establishing a strong base through commitment and dedication,” he said urging the community members to keep the reputation intact. The ambassador also thanked Qatar leadership and government for the support being extended to the community in various sectors. Kumaran noted that the bilateral relationship between the two countries is growing and it has seen remarkable growth in recent years. Led by Commanding Officer DIG Anwar Khan, the function was attended by the officers from Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Samudra Paheredar that arrived at Hamad Port as part of sharing experiences of maritime operations including pollution control, combating maritime terrorism, coastal security and maritime surveillance. The envoy read out excerpts from the Republic Day message by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind in Hindi and English. “Seven decades ago, on 26th January, our Constitution came into effect. Even before that, this date had acquired special significance. Having resolved to attain 'Purna Swaraj', our people had been celebrating 'Purna Swaraj Day' on every 26th January from 1930 to 1947. That is why, in 1950 we embarked our journey as a Republic on the 26th January, affirming to the principles laid down in our Constitution. Since than, every year we celebrate our Republic Day on 26th January,” the message read. “Another source of pride for our country has been our diaspora. During my visits abroad, I have observed that Indians have not only brought prosperity to there adopted lands, they have also enhanced India's image before the world community. Many of them have made great contributions in a wide variety of endeavours. The idea of world as a large well-knit family, captured in our message of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', strengthens our relations with other nations. We have been sharing our democratic ideals and the fruits of our development with the entire world,” it continued. “As India and Indians march forward, we remain committed to engaging the global community to build a secure and prosperous future for ourselves and for the entire humanity,” the President’s message said.

Officials and experts involved in the project.
Minister: Centre will play strategic role in developing fisheries wealth of Qatar

The new Aquatic Research Centre will play a strategic role in developing Qatar’s fisheries wealth, HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie has said. HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani yesterday opened the Aquatic Research Centre of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) at Ras Matbakh in Al Khor and Al Thakira Municipality. Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration, HE al-Subaie told Gulf Times that the centre will focus on conducting research on marine life and creating the best conditions to ensure its enrichment. “Preserving endangered varieties and production of high-quality fish as per the needs of the local market will be a priority. The centre will focus on climatic factors in order to provide fish with the ideal environment to thrive in,” he said. The minister said the centre has the latest technologies and will carry out research in co-operation with Qatar University (QU) on fisheries and how to create the best environment for fish, according to the official Qatar News Agency (QNA). There will also be research on how to save endangered fish. Fish farming projects will be linked to the newly opened centre in order to obtain the best results. The centre is expected to help increase fish production, preserve marine wealth, promote research and meet the demands of the market. Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani, Assistant Undersecretary of Agriculture and Fisheries Affairs at the MME, said the centre would serve multiple goals that would benefit the environment and the economy. He noted that it would help supply fish farms with certain types of fish to meet local demand. He added that there would also be a method to grow freshwater fish such as tilapia and others to attain self-sufficiency. Sheikh Dr Faleh said the production capacity of the centre would be increased to 20mn (larvae). Mohamed Mahmoud al-Abdullah, director of the centre, said the facility mainly focuses on the production of young fish and research in partnership with QU and the production of fish with marketing value in minimum time. Abdulaziz al-Duhaimi, director of the Fish Resources Department at the MME, said the centre has research and environmental goals that will help serve the cause of biological diversity in addition to training Qatari cadres to carry out its work. The centre has a fish growing unit with a production capacity of 1.5mn baby fish weighing 10gm each. It has also got a final growing unit with a capacity of 8 tonnes per year. These are in addition to shrimp farming facilities and a shrimp hatchery unit that will produce about 2mn units a year. Al-Duhaimi said the extent of self-sufficiency in fresh fish production currently stands at 75%. He expected this to reach 100% with the help of fish farming projects, stressing that the fish stock in Qatar was increasing. QU president Dr Hassan Rashid al-Derham said the university has always been committed to the environment and marine science, evident from the programme it launched on the topic. The university, with support from the State, also built research vessel ‘Janan’ to advance research efforts in the field. He added that QU supported the Aquatic Research Centre since the idea was first proposed. Head of labs at the centre, Dr Ibrahim Abdullatif al-Mesalmani, said the facility will be crucial to the country’s fish farm efforts. He also praised the partnership between the MME and QU to save endangered fish.