Twitter gets paid for promoting content, but the massive presence of propaganda ads on the social media platform could potentially jeopardize its credibility. If this loophole is not soon plugged, it will eventually alienate large number of users.

The anti-Qatar advertisements being promoted by faceless accounts are beginning to annoy twitter users, with ads condemning Qatar appearing on their feeds regularly. The expat community in Qatar is unlikely to get influenced by this spiteful drive, though. This development comes in the middle of a blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. They claim Qatar supports terrorism, a charge Doha strongly denies.

Twitter users across the world are raising questions about this vulnerability and wondering how unidentified people are able to push unverified matter. Twitter’s Ian Plunkett, in light of such activities, told media that they will “offer everyone visibility into who is advertising on Twitter, details behind those ads, and tools to share your feedback with us.” It’s a good start.

There is no evidence to suggest that the blockading countries are behind this smear twitter campaign, but Saudi Prince, Al Waleed Bin Talal, reportedly owns nearly five percent of Twitter Inc.

Expats live life as usual

Remarkably, the five-month long ongoing siege imposed on Qatar has not impacted the lives of the almost 2.2 million blue collar expats from South and South-East Asia. Life and services have not come to a standstill. Expatriates from different nationalities and cultures have resisted the siege and rejected external dictations with dignity. Most importantly, the standoff has brought the Qataris and the expats closer to each other than ever before.

Any initial anxiety and fear of scarcity of daily supplies, price rise and prospects of job loss lasted for only a short period. Many are still bringing their families to Qatar by seeking residence visas.

Samir Dahal, a Nepalese migrant worker who recently married, is planning to bring his wife to Doha soon. “I don’t read newspapers much and I am not really overly concerned about the current crisis. I am only focusing on working hard and earning enough money to raise our future child.”

Shamim Mahmood, who hails from Dhaka and has been working in Doha as a construction worker at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor, says it’s unfortunate that the problem continues but his life remains unchanged. “Of course we want Qatar and its neighbours to live in peace and harmony, but as far as my daily livelihood is concerned, it’s just fine. I was fearful initially but everything has settled down now.”

Indians continue to come in hordes, too, seeking new opportunities that keep arising.

The conflict is in nobody’s interest, though. If all stakeholders don’t sit together soon and resolve their differences through dialogue and consensus, everybody will stand to lose in the long run.

Doha
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Weather from Yahoo!

It was an opportunity that came calling out of the blue.

Gaurav, friend and chartered accountant by profession in New Delhi, was visiting Doha to meet his brother a few months ago. His brother is a pilot with Qatar Airways and lives there with his family. It was from his sister-in-law that Gaurav learnt of the prevailing situation related to Doha News: The ban on the site and the ensuing difficulties faced by its founders to run the portal.

I was a journalist with ESPN for close to seven years. I also contributed to various non-sports news sites as a columnist. I belong to an author-politician family. In 2012, I decided to venture out and turned into an entrepreneur when the digital media bug hit India. I started several portals in various domains, some of which went on to become leaders in their space in India. We have always looked out for opportunities to make investments in potential entities with the intention to take our media enterprise international.

Gaurav has known me for years and saw this as an opportunity for me to explore options in that direction. We could make a bid, he suggested. I thought why not. I studied Doha News, its nature of news reporting, the problems surrounding it and the Government’s reason for blocking it. I spent days and months evaluating every aspect and became better informed.

Through research and reports, one of the things that became clear was that the site was blocked by the Government of Qatar in late November, 2016, because of certain registration and licensing issues. I also became conscious of the fact that the founders, Omar Chatriwala and Shabina Khatri, blamed the Government for suppressing freedom of expression. I respect both the viewpoints and do not wish to be judgmental. But Doha News, for whatever reason, was taking a hit and I discovered that the founders were finding it quite difficult to run DN. The prospect of revitalizing Doha News was taking shape in my mind.

I shared the vision of investing in Doha News with Gaurav, to stimulate its revival, with the hope that the Government would soon lift the ban under right circumstances. We decided that Gaurav would approach Shabina and Omar with a suitable financial proposal. Without getting into the details, let me just say that both the sides came to an agreement and Doha News changed hands.

Shabina Khatri has worked hard for DN and managed to make the portal quite popular. Her team members, especially Lesley Walker and Victoria Scott, have been independent in their views. They followed certain principles and we really acknowledge that.

The sale paves the way for a fresh era at Doha News now as we draw our own path. We are determined to keep the trust and faith of our readers, with the assurance that the new DN management, along with editors and writers, will continue producing the high-quality journalistic product that the people of Qatar look forward to. We have been working with makeshift staff to keep the site up and running in some capacity, at least. We are in the process of streamlining and accelerating the operations. We are in touch with the Culture Ministry to finalise the approval for media license. We are looking for an accomplished editor and staff writers in Doha to take DN forward.

We understand the significance of engaging our audience, of valuing and giving a voice to readers. We fully recognise that the people of Qatar deserve to be able to share and receive information freely, and to hear voices independent from the mainstream.

To our readers, we say thank you. Thank you for staying with us during this uncertain time, for your support and criticism, both. No matter how good we become, we are and will always be willing to listen and make course-correction.

Tomorrow is Friday, your day to unwind and indulge in some great fun. Doha News has shortlisted some special events and activities spread around town for you to choose from. See what stimulates you!

The 4th Katara European Jazz Festival

Date and Venue: From Nov.8-12 at Katara Culture Centre, Building 5. Time: 7pm onwards.

Entry:Free

If you are a Jazz aficionado, you’d want to be here. Lighten up your evening with one of the most rejuvenating experiences of European Jazz music. The much-awaited 4th edition of Katara European Jazz Festival was inaugurated yesterday with immense zeal. Top European Jazz musicians from 11 countries will be showcasing their talent in this music festival. Aspiring musicians interested in inter-cultural music can attend workshops conducted by European artists, too.

Red Bull CPD-Car Park Drift-Doha

Date, Time and Venue: Nov.10 -5:30 p.m from Dallah Parking to Doha Cronicle

Entry: Free

One of the most awaited events of November is the exclusive Red Bull Car Park Drift in Doha. The thrilling sports event is launched under the sponsorship of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF), in partnership with Vodafone, Nissan, and Losail Circuit Sport. The event promises breathtaking car drifts with new, exciting drivers behind the wheels. The King of Drift is likely to represent Qatar in the Finals to be held in Kuwait.

Shopping

A number of lifestyle stores are offering amazing discounts, upto 50%, on unsold stocks. Apparels, shoes, watches and jewellery are the major items on sale. A popular shoe shop in Doha is also offering attractive deals, such as “buy 1 get 1 free”. As per customer reviews on the ongoing sale, the branded items are good and the rebates are great. A few other major franchisees of clothing brands, too, have reduced the prices to as low as QR 30. Sports shops are offering discounts from 20-30 %. Grab the opportunity!

Al Mamoura Family Park

In case you are looking for an outdoor recreation activity, or a long due family picnic, the newly- renovated Al Mamoura Park could prove to be a perfect spot. With the weather turning pleasant, you can enjoy the greenery of the park with much-improved facilitates. The 6,500 Sqm Parkhas upgraded its services, with latest equipments in place for physical exercise, games for children and improved lanes to give a superior experience.

What’s playing?

Various genres of movies are running in the theatres near you. According to IMD ratings,some of the best movies running are ‘THOR:RAGNAROK’ (2D):  An American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character,Thor.‘Thank you for your service’:  An American biographical war drama, it’s about the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depicting U.S. soldiers who find it hard to adjust to the civilian life. If horror excites you, go for ‘Jigsaw’.

Longines Global Championship Tour

Date and Venue: Nov 10  at AL SHAQAB Equestrian Centre

The splendid AL SHAQAB Equestrian Centre in Doha will once again provide just the idealsetting for the Longines Global Champions Tour finale. Founded by His Highness the Father Emir, this impressivevenue will see top international athletes go for broke to secure improved position in the prestigious LGCT Rankings

Doha Learning Week (Education Festival)

Date and Venue: Week-long event from Nov.10-16 at Katara

Entry: Free

If you are a student or a parent  looking for a career or education guide for your child, the innovative education festival, “Doha learning week”, is your one-stop hub. It is organised as a flagship week-long event under World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and will be inaugurated on 10th November. The week-long festival will offer a series of workshops, movie screenings, exhibitions, lectures, performances, tours and hackathons. It will offer activities from ‘Generation Amazing Football’, to various learning and educational events.You can find the details on https://www.wise-qatar.org/doha-learning-week-2017-details.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) decision to finally put an end to its long-standing, somewhat cynical posture on the labour-related issues in Qatar in its year-end discussion on Wednesday, November 8,Geneva, is not just a vindication of Doha’s persistent effort to convey to the world that it is doing what is needed, and the only one to do so in the Gulf region, to make living standards suitable and prosperous for the over 2.2-million-strong migrant workers.

It says Qatar is willing to listen, and is okay with course-correction.

The Government Communication office (GCO), on Wednesday, was relieved to release a thankful statement: “The State of Qatar welcomes the statement by ILO, which says it will close its 2014 complaint against Qatar. Their announcement is an acknowledgement of the important steps our Government has taken to develop a modern labour system that is fair to employers and employees, alike”.

“Qatar’s 2030 vision recognised the need for better living and working conditions for its foreign workforce even before contractors broke ground on World Cup sites. In recent years, Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Welfare, initiated a sweeping new programme to upgrade workers’ housing by creating modern accommodations for the nation’s migrant labourers,” the statement further added.

Provision of healthcare facilities for the migrant labourers is also a big factor in mind. According to GCO, construction of three modern hospitals and four new health centers for migrant workers is in full swing. In addition, a new labour contract system has been inaugurated. A wage-protection system has been put in place, too.

Despite being attacked for alleged indifference to workers’ living and working condition by various organisations, Qatar has engaged with NGOs like the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), to establish best labour practices, the statement read. It added: “Qatar will continue to work closely with them to ensure that the workers’ rights are not just guaranteed, but developed in parallel with international standards.”

The ILO complaint was a setback to the integrity of Qatar, and it took it very seriously. Reaction or not, it developed a “comprehensive programme of technical co-operation to ensure the reforms aligned with ILO’s best practices.” Qatar is developing a timeline for full implementation.

What Qatar is today is a consequence of the hard work that millions of workers from the South and South-East Asia have put in. They are the standing testimony to the country’s growth, and the State expressed its deepest gratitude. “The Government will continue to upgrade their living and working standards. We will set the highest standards for human rights.”

It may be a ghost in the past now, with the commission of enquiry gone, but the trauma that the three-year-long difficulty brought should be a lesson not just for Qatar. While hundred-year-long traditions may be difficult to negotiate, it is courage that separates the wannabes from the real ones.

It appears, for Qatar, courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to walk through it.