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Via @_mahaalmarri

Locals tune into Emir’s speech

Twitter erupted with opinions last night following Sheikh Tamim’s first address to the nation about the Gulf dispute.

Many in Qatar responded enthusiastically to the Emir’s call to use the crisis as a wakeup call to step up and diversify the economy.

Reactions elsewhere

But in Saudi Arabia and other boycotting nations, the speech was less well-received.

The polarized reaction shows that even though the quartet has downscaled their demands and Qatar said it is willing to talk, much damage has already been done.

Many cultural taboos have been broken during the boycott, including the big one of not shaming or criticizing each other publicly.

The fallout of expelling Qatari students studying in neighboring countries and forcing families apart will also likely not be forgotten anytime soon.

If and when the dispute is resolved, Qatar will still be pursuing legal compensation for these actions.

As one Al Jazeera journalist said yesterday:

Thoughts?

Qatar Museums

Qatar National Museum

Qatar’s upcoming National Museum is launching a series of sneak peek tours this month before it opens late next year.

To sign up for one of the 50 tours, which start on July 24, residents will need to apply for a Qatar Museums Culture Pass.

In a statement, QM Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa said that the tours would give visitors “one last opportunity” to “appreciate the architectural gem of Jean Nouvel” before the museum’s exhibits are installed.

Qatar Museums

Qatar’s Emir visits the National Museum

“This is everyone’s last chance to experience the museum as an architectural artifact. We welcome all nationalities and residents,” she added.

Some Qataris have already toured the site, and the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the under-construction museum last month.

Culture Pass

Launched in May 2014, QM’s Culture Pass Program offers members access to a range of cultural activities across Qatar.

These include creative workshops, invitations to exclusive exhibition openings, private tours of galleries and discounts of up to 15 to 25 percent at QM cafes, gift shops and other selected sites.

Chantelle D'mello

Fire Station opening 2015

There are four tiers of membership, three of which are paid for and one of which is free.

You can apply for a Culture Pass here, and book a tour place here.

Delayed opening

According to QM, the National Museum will be ready to open its doors to all in December 2018.

Qatar Museums

Qatar National Museum

That’s two years behind its original scheduled opening date.

The museum, located across from the Corniche near the Museum of Islamic Art, is designed to look like a desert rose growing out of the ground.

When finished, it will tell the story of Qatar and celebrate its rich heritage, QM said in a statement.

“It will combine historic objects and contemporary influences, opening up a dialogue around the impact of rapid change while honoring its ancestors’ legacy,” they added.

Thoughts?

Santiago Sanz Romero/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar residents – especially women – are among the most sedentary in the world, a new Stanford University study has found.

The report, published in international science journal Nature, found that people living in Qatar take some 4,158 steps on average each day.

That’s a ways below the global average of 4,961.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

To arrive at their conclusions, scientists at the US-based university analyzed the steps taken by more than 700,000 people in 111 countries, using the data from the accelerometers on their smartphones.

Activity inequality

Interestingly, researchers said that the number of steps taken wasn’t as important as how evenly divided activity was between men and women.

The bigger the gap in activity levels, the more likely it was that the country struggled with obesity problems, the report’s authors said.

“When activity inequality is greatest, women’s activity is reduced much more dramatically than men’s activity, and thus the negative connections to obesity can affect women more greatly,” computer scientist Jure Leskovec said.

Qatar was ranked most unequal in terms of activity levels on the index,. Women take 38 percent fewer daily steps than men (2,978 compared to 4,802).

Kyle McDonald

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US also fared poorly when it came to activity inequality, and all of these nations also have a high prevalence of obesity.

At the top of the rankings were Hong Kong, China and Ukraine. In each of these countries, residents walked more than 6,000 steps a day.

‘Ticking time bomb’

Qatar and its neighbors’ poor scores likely don’t come as a surprise to many in the Gulf.

Just last month, medical experts warned that lifestyle-related diseases among women in the region are a “ticking time bomb.”

Arshad Inamdar/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a new study about GCC women’s health issues, researchers found that the highest prevalence of obesity was in Qatar.

A whopping 45.3 percent of women in the country were classified as obese based on their body mass index. And 61 percent of women in Qatar walked less than 20 minutes a day.

Similar rates were found in other Gulf states, according to the report, titled The Ticking Time Bomb in Lifestyle-related Diseases Among Women in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries.

This is in part due to a lack of facilities or access to fitness centers, the National reported.

Thasleem MK/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The desert climate, a lack of social support and prevalence of household help also play a role, according to the study’s lead author.

Dr. Mashael Alshaikh explained:

“The social norms and the effect of urbanization, such as importing cheap labor to help the woman in the house – this limits the physical activity, even inside the house.

Data from the WHO shows that the countries with gender inequality have more health risks, that’s why we focused on cardiovascular disease prevention.”

Walkability

To improve activity levels worldwide, Stanford researchers suggested creating an environment in which it is safe and enjoyable to walk.

Citing examples in the US, Dr. Scott Delp said:

“If you must cross major highways to get from point A to point B in a city, the walkability is low; people rely on cars,” he said. “In cities like New York and San Francisco, where you can get across town on foot safely, the city has high walkability.”

In Qatar, walking continues to be a difficult and sometime dangerous activity. This is due to ongoing construction, the heat and stares from passersby, according to some women.

Muhammad Kamran Qureshi/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, authorities are working to establish more pedestrian-friendly interchanges, especially at “black spots” around the country.

What else do you think can be done to boost activity levels in Qatar? Thoughts?