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Ray Toh / Doha News

Aqua Park

Qatar’s largest water park is officially open for the season starting today.

The Aqua Park, located down Salwa Road, has several offerings for adults and children, including a wave pool, lazy river, “Jacuzzi Cave,” lagoon pool, tube slides and an “African Village” for small kids.

To woo visitors, the park is taking a different approach this year by dropping prices instead of raising them.

Aqua Park/Facebook

Aqua Park

Last year, it sparked anger after increasing rates. Adults were charged up to QR180 at the door (and QR130 per child over 90cm tall).

However, this year the rate has fallen to QR120 per adult whether buying online or in person, and QR100 per child.

The rate for special needs guests and domestic workers is the same as last year, QR70/person.

Attractions

Meanwhile, the cost of popular attractions such as Stingray surfing and a “Space boat” remain QR50/person.

Something else visitors may notice this year is that Aqua Park has done away with ladies days, which used to be every Tuesday.

Surfing at Aqua Park Qatar

Aqua Park Qatar / Facebook

Surfing at Aqua Park Qatar

Instead, it is emphasizing its family days, which are Saturdays from 10am until 8pm.

The park is closed on Mondays and open from noon to 8pm on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. It’s open from noon to 10pm on Thursdays and 10am to 10pm on Fridays.

Regarding the dress code, Aqua Park recommends (but does not require) swimwear that respects Qatar’s tradition and culture, officials previously told Doha News.

More information about Aqua Park can be found on its website.

Who’s excited for the opening? Thoughts?

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

2013 Qatar International Food Festival

From breaking out your eating pants for the Qatar International Food Festival to dancing the night away at a Beenie Man concert to checking out a new spring festival, there’s lots to do around town this weekend.

Here are our picks:

Qatar International Food Festival

The 8th annual edition of QIFF will kick off today at the Hotel Park in front of the Sheraton Grand Doha at 2pm.

This year, the festival will feature several new additions, including a garden picnic where families can buy a basket, collect a blanket and sit on the grass to eat their meals.

There will also be food trucks, kiosks and stalls selling small bites for QR5 to QR35, along with Dinner in the Sky, a live cooking theater from 5pm to 9pm daily, and outdoor screenings of food-related movies from 9pm to 10pm, courtesy of the Doha Film Institute and Qatar Foundation.

And each night at 8pm, a fireworks show will take place.

QIFF

2015 QIFF fireworks

To avoid wastage, unsold and “untouched” food will be given to Eid Charity to distribute to those in need.

The festival will go from 2pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 2pm to 11pm on weekends until April 8.

For more information on participating restaurants and menus, check out QIFF’s website.

Spring festival

Mall of Qatar is launching its first spring festival on Thursday, March 30. The event runs through April 22 and includes live performances, prize drawings and hot air balloon rides.

There will also be flower arrangement workshops, mall-wide parades and new shows from the mall’s resident troupe. More information can be found on MOQ’s website.

Beenie Man concert

Grammy award-winning Jamaican reggae dancehall recording artist Beenie Man, also known as “the king of dancehall,” will take to the stage this Thursday, March 30 at the St. Regis Doha’s Oyster Bay area.

The concert will also feature several DJ’s, including EarthKry, DJ Teddy Jam and DJ Mubarak.

It will run from 7pm until 2am and costs QR120 per person for early birds. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for QR150.

Only those 21 years and older are allowed entry. Passports/IDs are required. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Rang Barse

Two weeks after the Indian spring festival of Holi, local events company Red Apple is hosting Rang Barse, a colorful dance festival on Friday, March 31, at the Doha Marriott Hotel Beachfront.

Van Darren Martinez/Flickr

Rang Barse 2014

The event, which starts at 3pm and runs until 10pm, features several local DJs playing Bollywood beats, a food court with Indian food, color stalls, water guns and various other activities.

Tickets cost QR150/person for regular entry (QR200 at the door) and can be purchased online.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page here. The event is open to the public, and children above the age of eight years old are required to enter with a ticket.

Movie night under the stars

Sherborne Qatar Prep School is hosting a Star Wars and Trolls themed night this Friday (March 31) on its campus in Al Rayyan. Participants can come dressed as their favorite characters and watch both films “under the stars.”

The first screening will be of Trolls (2016), from 6pm to 7:20 pm. Star Wars – Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) will then be screened at 7:40pm. Doors open at 5:15pm.

Trolls/Facebook

Trolls

Entry costs QR50 per person and QR150 for a family ticket. Children below three years old enter free of charge. A “buy 3 get 1 free” deal is also on offer for tickets, which includes kid’s popcorn. More information about the event is here.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their blankets and and picnic snacks, although BBQ and soft drinks will be available for sale.

Souk Areej min Baladi

The College of the North Atlantic – Qatar (CNA-Q) is hosting a multicultural night this weekend that features multicultural foods, performances and activities.

CNAQ

CNAQ souq

Souk Areej min Baladi or “flavors of my homeland” is an annual campus event where students from more than a dozen countries showcase their traditions and heritage.

The event will run from 6pm to 10pm at the CNA-Q courtyard and is free and open to all. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Bonus:

  • Korean film: A three-day Korean Film Festival concludes today with two screenings of Born To Sing (2013) at the HBKU Student Center. The South Korean comedy-drama directed by Lee Jong Pil tells the intertwining stories of people seeking redemption at a singing contest. The film will be screened at the Student Center’s cinema twice, once at 1pm, and a second time at 4pm.

What are your plans this weekend? Thoughts?

Sensory Souk

Alison Saraf (left) and Raana Smith (right)

Alison Saraf and Raana Smith are two moms on a mission.

The long-term expats are both parents of boys with autism and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPS), a condition in which the brain has trouble interpreting information from the senses.

Both children have at times struggled to learn due to these issues. And their mothers told Doha News that they have spent thousands of riyals importing educational aids to try to help.

“Both Raana and I have invested a lot of money in these items over the years. This stuff is not cheap,” Saraf said.

The duo met while their children were both receiving therapy at the Child Development Center (CDC) in West Bay Lagoon.

They soon decided to open their own shop so that other parents in Qatar and neighboring countries would be able to get hold of these aids locally.

Sensory Souk

So earlier this month, Smith and Saraf launched Sensory Souk, an online outlet that delivers to addresses in Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.

It sells a wide range of items imported from the US that are all designed to help children with autism and related disorders in a school environment.

Sensory Souk

Sensory Souk products

“Our products are basically all the things I couldn’t get hold of in Qatar, but wanted to,” Saraf said.

The company will strive to offer high quality products at competitive prices, with the “added convenience” of online ordering, Smith added.

The items include weighted vests, handwriting helpers, bumpy cushions to sit on and items to hold, chew and balance on.

“What these products do is they instill calm in the child so that they can function,” Saraf said. “Just to sit on a chair trying to be still, that’s an epic thing for them.”

When asked to pick her favorite from their range of products, Smith highlighted their range of putties.

Sensorysouk.com

Glo Putty, one of the products on the website

She said that they give her son a very important outlet:

“My son Ayoub really likes the tactile things,” she said. “He likes slime and goo and getting messy. For whatever reason, he just has that need to touch and feel. It’s soothing to him.”

Rental program

The entrepreneurs have also launched a rental section of the site so that families can try products out before committing to buying them.

Obviously it’s a business, but we have both bought something really expensive in the past that hasn’t worked,” Saraf said.

“Where possible, we want to provide a service which will assist parents and professionals, to save them money.”

The two women also want to establish an online forum on the site so that families can exchange information about products, schools and specially trained professionals in Qatar.

Sensorysouk.com

The weighted compression vest, available via the rental program

Saraf explained that it can be very difficult for families to connect with the support networks they need in Qatar.

We want to help parents learn to be advocates for their children. We want to lift other parents up,” she said.

Autism awareness

World Autism Awareness Day falls on April 2 this year, and many organizations in Qatar are taking part.

This includes the team behind the Burj Qatar, which will light up in blue on the day, as part of a global campaign.

Sam Agnew/Flickr

The Burj Qatar

There is no publicly available data about the prevalence of autism in Qatar.

But the CDC – where Saraf and Smith met – previously told Doha News that it believes 20 percent of Qatar’s school population has some kind of learning disability.

Both Smith and Saraf said they are keen to support the global drive to educate others about autism and its associated disorders.

WAD

Autism awareness

Sharing knowledge, they said, enables parents to feel empowered and help their children succeed.

“When you first get that diagnosis, it feels a bit crushing,” Smith said. “You’re not sure what to do. You’re running behind it. But when you can get in front of it and take charge of it, you can do anything for your child.”

Local delivery within Qatar will cost QR50, according to the Sensory Souk website, and a free pick up service is in the pipeline.

Thoughts?