By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter

Unique cultural performances from seven Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) will be the highlight of the first Asean Festival in Qatar set between April 30 and May 2 at Katara – the Cultural Village's esplanade.

Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, general manager of Katara, said the festival will feature several events and activities such as musicals, folkloric shows, art exhibitions, handicrafts stalls, and folkloric food.

He said a combination of arts and culture, as well as the “magic and beauty”, of seven Asean countries, is embedded in the festival which will be witnessed by visitors in three days.

The event will also see the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore (members of the Asean Committee in Doha or ACD) in unison to provide visitors from all walks of life a glimpse of South East Asia’s rich cultural heritage.

Al-Sulaiti was speaking at a press conference yesterday held at Katara to announce the launch in collaboration with ACD. It was attended by Darwish Ahmed al-Shaibani, Katara’s director of the Marketing, International Relations and Cultural Affairs Department, envoys and officials of the seven Asean embassies.

“The organisation of this event stems from the pioneer role “Katara” is assuming and its relentless effort in enhancing communication, exchange, and cross-multiculturalism,” he explained.

“This also satisfies the needs of people and leads these cultures to meet and blend, which is what “Katara” has been doing through hosting a lot of cultural events.”

Indonesian ambassador and current ACD chairman Deddy Saiful Hadi and Malaysian ambassador Ahmad Jazri Mohamed Johar (also the ACD vice chairman) echoed the statements of al-Sulaiti saying the festival will be packed with impressive cultural shows and activities performed by professional cultural troupes from South East Asian countries.

Hadi noted that Indonesia will bring 28 troupes from its capital to showcase traditional dances, and food; the 22 troupes from Kuala Lumpur will present set of dances comprising the cultures of Malays, Chinese, Indian, Sabah and Serawak; and 22 troupes from Manila will also display a series of cultural dances.

The Indonesian envoy added that Brunei Darussalam will bring in two singers from its capital. Local talents of Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam will also perform at the festival.

“During the event, visitors will enjoy true spirit of the dazzling light spectrum radiating from Asean’s most rich cultures and oldest traditions, being a symbol for knowledge and growth,” he said.

ACD is creating a small window to the Asean countries for the Qatari population who haven’t been to these Asean countries, according to the Malaysian ambassador.

“In terms of why this event is special? We are bringing professional cultural troupes from our countries and we will be able to see very good performances. This will provide a glimpse of Asean cultures,” said Johar.

Considered as the second most successful international association after the European Union with 6mn population, Asean is comprised of 10 countries and diplomatically represented by seven countries in Doha.

Meanwhile, the ACD was formed on January 18, 2012 in a bid to promote solidarity and unity among all South East Asian nationals that are resident in Qatar. The association also aims to promote Asean cultural identity among the local population in the country.

ACD operates on a rotating chairmanship and it is currently chaired by the Indonesian embassy until December 31.

Related Story