By Mudassir Raja
They may not be present in large numbers in Qatar but they have certainly started making their presence felt. Around 500 Croatian expatriates work in different positions in Qatar but their vibrancy and energy was truly at display on Tuesday night at the Nashira Ballroom of Hilton Hotel.
The launching ceremony of Croatian Business Council (CBC) turned into a cultural gala for the gathering as a famous Croatian cellist and singer performed live on the stage before the guests were served with traditional Croatian cuisine. The gathering included different ambassadors, diplomats, representatives of various expatriate business communities, and Croatian business personnel.
The event started with the national anthems of both Qatar and Croatia. Ana Rucner, cellist, presented EU anthem Ode to Joy to the much applause of the audience.
In his welcome speech, Mario Lozancic, President of CBC, said: “We are all aware that how important advertising and marketing are in today’s world but personally, I always prefer when your legacy is recognised and praised by others.
“About 200 years ago, Napoleon in a moment of anguish and despair on Russian battlefield exclaimed that if he had 5, 000 Croatian soldiers, he would be dining in Moscow and with additional 100,000 he would conquer the world.
“Now, we are not 100,000 Croats here and we are not trying to conquer the world. This is not football after all, but there are enough of us to have dinner in Doha and we do wish to make an impact on our world,” Mario said with smiles.
He said, “Croatians have historically been a ‘mobile’ nation through commerce, culture and sports. Today we have better technological means that are making us much faster in travelling and giving our ideas greater mobility and faster spread all around the world in a matter of seconds.”
“CBC also wants to look further than our own horizons and we are ready to be a bridge between Croatia and Qatar. Hopefully many companies and individuals from both sides will find this bridge worth-crossing. We are looking forward to an interconnected future,” Lozancic said.
“The CBC and this very evening are a tribute to mobility and connectivity. One of the latest and most significant connections is with the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy. CBC will officially be supporting the committee in the organisation of events for Croatian fans. Many Croatian companies are already involved in supporting the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy in executing such great and noble event as FIFA World Cup 2022.”
The president added: “The formation of CBC would not have been possible without two important persons. One is Croatia’s former ambassador to Qatar, Tomislav Bošnjak, who tirelessly promoted the idea of the CBC for years. The other is Salem Khalaf al-Mannai, who is both sponsoring Croatian companies in Qatar, and has companies in Croatia.
Drago Lovric, Ambassador of Croatia to Qatar, said: “I am really privileged and honoured to celebrate this commencing day. Let us mark this day to remember who we are and how far we have travelled. On January 15, 1992, Croatia was recognised by all 23 members of the European economic community and many other counties in the world. Croatia celebrates the day as a day of international recognition.”
The ambassador further said that they were happy to celebrate the day with the commencement of CBC in Doha away from Croatia. He said that they had achieved a lot since the recognition with confidence. The source of confidence is knowledge, which with constant efforts they can shape their uncertain destiny. “We can shape our future. We can shape our success. Croatia is going to take the presidency of EU next year.”
He added: “CBC in Qatar is a symbol that our small Croatian community can serve as a bridge. Our community in Qatar is very successful, influential and very well appreciated. As the ambassador, I can confirm that the bilateral political relations between the countries are very brotherly and cordial. Croatia considers Qatar a crucial partner in the Gulf region. Only last year, both countries signed eight bilateral memorandums which will enable us to intensify the co-operation in various fields.”
A detailed presentation on different Croatian companies working successfully in Qatar gave in depth knowledge of the economic ties between the two countries.
Later in the evening, the guests enjoyed the energetic and melodious music of Ana, who kept performing on stage with beautiful videos prepared by her. The video songs showed the culture, landscapes, traditions, and other features of her beautiful country.
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