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Qatar takes efforts on preventing further desertificationMinistry of Municipality and Environment, in co-operation with United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), recently organised a three-day workshop to develop a national strategy for combating desertification in Qatar. The workshop was one of the various efforts taken by Qatar to address the global warming challenges faced by the country.

Residents of Qatar acknowledge the fact that there has been considerable increase in temperature, with low annual rainfall making the summers extremely hot and humid. The workshop was organised in sync with Qatar’s National Vision 2030, of which Environmental Development is one of the four main pillars. It is among the various steps taken to improve the climatic conditions in the country.

The objective of the workshop was to develop modern standards as part of national strategy to combat desertification. It focused on identifying and addressing potential risks leading to land degradation and further desertification. The sessions were dedicated on ground solution based approach towards sustainable land management options and practices.

Although various efforts are being taken by the Government of Qatar to address the global warming concerns, such as reduction of Green House Gases (GHGs) emissions, the UNCCD associate programme officer acknowledged that this was the first workshop dedicated to identifying the causes of desertification and means for combating it.

Going by the statement and looking at the degrading climatic conditions in the Arab world, with rising temperatures, it won’t be wrong to say that there has been a delay in addressing the concern. Desertification and degradation of agricultural land can further intensify heat in the region and lead to further problems, such as dust storms, drought and other adverse climatic conditions.

The workshop highlighted the importance of protecting land that is not degraded wholly or partially. One of the major moves to prevent desertification was to focus on setting irrigation plans to combat drought at the local, regional and international levels.

If impactful national plans and strategy are derived from such workshops for addressing the environment degradation and the same are being effectively executed, it will not just benefit climatic condition of the country, but will also be an impetus towards sustainable economic development that suffers largely due to it.

 

Ambient air pollutionWorld Health Organization (WHO) found that ambient air pollution has claimed over 4.2 million deaths globally. It is mostly prevalent in the urban settlements without proper ventilation, given air conditioned buildings. Inhalation of toxic air pollutants lead to negative health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic reactions, pneumonia, increased asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases.

Retaining the air quality has become a global priority, especially for countries where people remain indoors for a major part of their day. The WHO database shows that more countries are now identifying the need to control indoor as well as outdoor air pollution. However, Qatar is one step ahead.

Qatar’s National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) recently conducted a research on how Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) determines the overall exposure of people to pollutants through respiratory-inhalation.

Variations in the IAQ were recorded with subject to the geographical positioning of a building, including its vicinage to the outdoor toxin sources, such as, industries, construction sites, trade hubs, traffic or its exposure to desert sand particles. Structure characteristics like building envelope, ventilation and air conditioning system were also determined during the evaluation. Further, the presence of concentrated emission sources, including furniture, décor articles, air refreshers; as well as emissions during cooking, cleaning, or smoking also influenced IAQ.

A research also gauged the impact of IAQ on the health of Qatar’s residents. Although the outcomes did not indicate a major negative impact of indoor pollution, the report asserted that the health effects of poor IAQ were felt in some of the households.

Since it is a matter of significance to public health, Qatar National Research Fund is promoting the scientific study and sustainable mitigation of ambient pollution.  Qatar is investing heavily in the best available technologies to maintain the global environmental standards.

On the global front, a collaborative investment in an IAQ enhancement technology has become need of the hour. With an innovative technology in place, the buildings will be able to automatically regulate the indoor exposure to harmful air pollutants, including PM2.5 particulates.

How residents can Mitigate Poor IAQ

  • Avoid smoking indoors
  • Keep your gas stove well-ventilated
  • Minify clutter
  • Remove carpeting, if at all possible
  • Cover the garbage bin to avoid attracting pests
  • Remove shoes outside the home
  • Avoid using air fresheners
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check for water leaks and fix them
  • Clean dusty surfaces regularly
  • Wash bedding in warm water
  • Ensure the proper functioning of exhausts in your bathrooms and kitchen
  • Avoid keeping scented candles in the bedroom

It has become important to take an urgent action against air pollution to stay healthy and achieve a collaborative sustainable development.

 

 

Ramdan in middle east_Qatar

The Holy month of Ramadan is about to get underway and Qatar, as well as the entire Middle East region, is high on excitement. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. Muslims are required to refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and sexual relations. In some interpretations, swearing is forbidden. Eid al Fitr marks the End of Ramadan.

Ramadan 2018 will start on Wednesday, May 16, and will end on Thursday, June 14. The non-Muslim expat community will find it quite a stretch and will need to remember important dos and don’ts. Non-Muslims, young children, the sick, people with mental health illnesses, travellers, the elderly and women who are menstruating, pregnant, breast-feeding or have recently given birth, do not have to fast.

Since Ramadan is just a little over two weeks away, the routines in Qatar will change drastically. From beautiful decorations to Iftar feasts and lesser working hours, Ramadan is taken quite religiously here. Muslims are expected to follow the creeds of Ramadan, both in public and private spaces. They keep their thoughts and actions pure and use the month-long period for spiritual reflection. They rein in unwanted sentiments, such as anger, greed, envy, lust. Gossiping is considered unhealthy. They also mull over their spiritual beliefs, and strengthen their devotion by reciting the Holy Quran during the day.

More than any other time, the month of Ramadan can be challenging for the expat population.

Expats, take note

Ramadan for expats in Qatar

If you are planning to relocate to Qatar during the month of Ramadan, quash it. Government agencies and authorities are largely preoccupied with celebrations and are generally slow-moving in performing their duties. Offices close early and those at work are unusually not focused. Shops shut down before time and streets are generally deserted during daytime. These can be nerve-racking and you will find yourself with little direction and help that is normally available. It is better to relocate well before or after Ramadan.

You must accept invitations for an Iftar from observing locals. Bring dates and gifts. It strengthens the bond and sends a respectful message. Introduce yourself to your neighbours and visit Qatari families and friends and embrace the community spirit. Hug more and more to build affinity.

Even if you are a non-Muslim, it is impolite to eat, drink or smoke in public during the hours of daylight. If you can, try and participate in charitable activities and volunteer services.

You might want to leave Qatar for sometime during this time not just because of the punishing heat, but also because you don’t feel obliged to observe the rituals and be a part of it. Don’t. This is your chance to show that you appreciate their culture and are keen to celebrate with them. It’s a sign of friendliness.

Dress appropriately and do not play loud music. It’s considered intrusive and disturbing to those who are fasting. Be modest and patient.

You will do well to steer clear of debates, arguments and fights since Ramadan is a time of peace and tranquility. Remember, you are not a natural in Qatar. You are seeking acceptance, and it comes only if you adhere to ground rules and show that you care. Play by the culture. Don’t go on kissing or cuddling your partner of the opposite sex in public. It’s especially offensive during the Holy month.

Try fasting yourself. It has health benefits, cleanses the soul, helps you understand your body better and helps you with self-control. Of course, in a way, it also makes you one of their own.