Under aerial bombardment from Israel, people sheltering in the south of the Gaza Strip after fleeing their homes earlier in the war said yesterday they had nowhere safe to go now.The city of Khan Yunis is the focus of Israeli air strikes and artillery fire after fighting resumed on Friday following the collapse of a week-long truce. Its population has swelled in recent weeks as several hundred thousand people from the northern Gaza Strip have fled south.Some are camping in tents, others in schools. Some are sleeping in stairwells or outside the few hospitals operating in the city. A World Health Organisation official said on Friday that one of the hospitals was “like a horror movie” as hundreds of wounded children and adults waited for treatment.Abu Wael Nasrallah, 80, scoffed at the Israeli army’s latest order to move further south to Rafah, bordering Egypt. Children were injured in Israeli strikes in the town on Friday.The message was delivered via leaflets dropped from the sky over several districts of Khan Yunis.“This is nonsense,” Nasrallah told Reuters. He had heeded Israeli evacuation orders and moved from the northern Gaza Strip earlier in the war that broke out in the first week of October when Hamas fighters stormed into Israel.Some 193 Palestinians had been killed since the truce expired, the Gaza health ministry said yesterday, adding to the death toll of more than 15,000 Gazans announced by Palestinian health authorities.Israel says it is making efforts to prevent civilian casualties as the fighting moves south. Addressing reporters in Tel Aviv yesterday, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said humanitarian groups were informed of what he described the “safer areas”.“We’ve not asked the whole population of the south to relocate, we’ve not even asked the whole population of Khan Yunis to relocate. But those neighbourhoods, those specific areas where we know there is going to be heavy combat, we’ve asked people there to relocate,” Mark Regev said.But Nasrallah and his family would stay put because they had already lost everything.“There is nothing left to fear. Our homes are gone, our property is gone, our money is gone, our sons have been killed, some are handicapped. What is left to cry for?”A mother of four, who gave her name as Samira, said she had fled south from Gaza City with her children after Israel began bombing there last month. They now shelter with friends in a home west of Khan Yunis.She said Friday night had been one of the most terrifying since she arrived: “A night of horror.” She and other residents said they feared the intensity of the bombing in Khan Yunis and the nearby city of Deir al-Balah meant Israel’s ground invasion of the south was imminent.Another man, who gave his name as Yamen, said he and his wife and six children had fled the north weeks ago and were sleeping in a school.“Where to after Deir al-Balah, after Khan Yunis?” he said. “I don’t know where to take my family.” The UN estimates that up to 1.8mn people in the Gaza Strip — or nearly 80% of the population — have been forced to flee during Israel’s devastating bombing campaign.
A fascinating roaming parade marked the opening of the Winter Festival at the Old Doha Port, Mina DIstrict, Friday, enthralling a large number of residents and visitors.Taking place four times daily until January 7, the parade – against a backdrop of stunning murals and colourful buildings – engages festival-goers, mostly families and children, with wholesome entertainment, attractions and other activities such as face painting, juggling shows and sea mascots.
In efforts to streamline and simplify the entry process for residents’ families intending to visit or reside in the country, the Ministry of Interior has revised certain regulations and procedures. This initiative aims to elevate the quality of services in alignment with the state's overarching approach.Under the updated procedures, sponsoring families is subject upon the provisions in the employee's electronic work contract concerning salary and accommodation. Government and semi-government sector employees must secure family housing through their employer or maintain a salary not less than QAR 10,000, verified by an employment contract. For private sector employees, the profession should belong to technical or specialized fields (non-labour), with a salary not less than QAR 10,000, or QAR 6,000 along with family housing verified in the employment contract.Moreover, in family sponsorship cases, children should not exceed 25 years of age, and daughters must be unmarried. It is also mandatory to provide health insurance covering the entire duration of their stay, effective from their date of entry into the country.Additionally, children within the mandatory education age bracket (6-18 years old) must be enrolled in licensed schools within the country or provide evidence of their education enrollment outside the country through the educational platform supervised by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. This requirement is essential during the issuance or renewal of the residence permit.Regarding family visits, the sponsoring resident's profession must belong to non-labour sectors, with a salary not less than QAR 5,000. They should have family housing accredited by the relevant authorities. The visitor should be a relative within the permissible degrees of relation to the sponsoring resident, with no specific age restriction; however, it is mandatory to have health insurance covering the visitor's period of stay in Qatar.These updated procedures and regulations are now in effect.To ensure public convenience and ease, the General Directorate of Passports offers all its services electronically through the Metrash2 app and the Ministry of Interior's official website.
Many fans will remember the family of five desert rodents unveiled as the official mascots of the Asian Cup Qatar 2023 from 2011. Saboog, Tmbki, Freha, Zkriti and Traeneh will once again be the face of Asia’s most prestigious football tournament, after making their debut twelve years ago when Qatar last hosted the AFC Asian Cup. The familiar characters were presented as mascots for the Asian Cup Qatar 2023 at a special ceremony at the Barahat Msheireb in Doha.For Hassan al-Kuwari, Marketing and Communications Executive Director of the Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Local Organising Committee (LOC), the return of the mascots to this year’s edition of the tournament is a testament to a long legacy of excellence in hosting mega sporting events in Qatar.“The mascots of the 2023 Asian Cup invoke wonderful memories from 2011, but also embody the excitement and energy of what will certainly be an amazing competition,” said al-Kuwari. “The five characters are inspired by Qatar’s natural environment and present us with yet another wonderful opportunity to showcase our culture and heritage to football fans from around the world.”The characters are the creation of Qatari artist Ahmed al-Maadheed. When working on the characters, al-Maadheed wanted to attribute different characteristics to each of the family members, much like the different roles football players take on during a football match. The artist also wanted to create a set of characters that resemble a traditional household in Qatar, while paying tribute to all four corners of country.“From the very beginning, we wanted to do something that inspired families and young people to be a part of the Asian Cup,” said al-Maadheed. “We wanted to do dig deep into our rich ecological heritage and find an animal that could represent the best of what happens on the pitch and also in our daily lives, and that was the jerboa.”Al-Maadheed added: “We decided to present a family of jerboas, each with its own distinctive personality, as a way of acknowledging the importance of teamwork in football, but also acknowledging the importance of family life to societies in Qatar.”The characters have been brought to life for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 through an anime-inspired animation produced by Katara Studios. In the buildup to the event, and throughout the tournament, which takes place between January 12 and February 10, 2024, audiences will be treated to an animated work that invokes the nostalgia of iconic cartoons of the past. The animation was directed by Fahad al-Kuwari, with the song performed by Qatari artist Dana al-Meer and the legendary Tarek Al Arabi Tourgane.The mascots of the Asian Cup Qatar 2023 are Saboog, Tmbki, Freha, Zkriti and Traeneh. Since first making an appearance 2011, they have grown up, matured, and are now ready for a new edition of the AFC Asian Cup.The first in the series of five mascots is Saboog, the blue colored son of the family. His name is derived from the commonly used word to refer to the jerboa in Qatar. Second is Freha, the pink-colored eldest daughter of the family named after an area with the same name in the north of Qatar. Third is Tmbiki, a yellow-colored younger son named after the Timbic region in the east of the country. The parents are Zikriti and Traeneh, a green-colored father and a purple-colored mother respectively. They are named after Zikrit in Qatar’s west, and Tranaa in the north of the country.
Riyadh won the right to host the Expo 2030 world fair, vote results showed yesterday, in another diplomatic victory for a Gulf country after the Qatar soccer World Cup last year. South Korea’s Busan and Italy’s Rome were also in the running to host the world fair, a five-yearly event that attracts millions of visitors and billions of dollars in investment. Riyadh won 119 votes, Busan 29 and Rome 17, results from 182 members of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) showed. Saudi Arabia needed to garner two thirds of the votes to win from the first round. Riyadh had enlisted soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for the Al-Nassr Saudi club, to convince members in a video projected before the vote. The Saudi capital has proposed to host the event between October 2030 and March 2031. The win is the icing on the cake for Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s ambitious Vision 2030 programme, which aims to wean the country off its oil dependency. “We had a fantastic team of ministers going around the world, engaging our counterparts in a very, very active way to understand what they expected, what they were looking for and what we should deliver in order to gain their trust,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said. The three delegations had been in horse-trading overdrive over the past few months, staging splashy lobbying events in the French capital.