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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.

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.

 

Qatar is not diversifying its economy because it is, unlike its Gulf neighbours, running out of its oil and gas reserves any time soon. They have the third largest gas reserves in the world, following Russia and Iran, with an estimated 872 trillion cubic feet – the equivalent of 188 billion barrels of oil. At the current production rate, it is estimated these reserves will last for approximately 156 years.

The country is branching out because there is more to Qatar than oil and gas. The country has embarked on a wide-ranging investment programme to enhance the economic diversity ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The programme includes investing oil and gas revenues into major infrastructure projects, industrial manufacturing and to strengthen and develop financial and government services. The diversification also includes the transportation services and the tourism sector. The investment aims to diversify national revenue sources, rebalancing Qatar’s economy to focus on knowledge sectors that is in line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

The inaugural Qatar Self Sufficiency Exhibition 2018, which just concluded in Doha (April 1-3), was one such impactful declaration outlining the country’s expansion plan. The expo provided the perfect platform to showcase latest production lines for food, healthcare, industrial and environmental sectors. Apart from local manufacturers, the trade fair caught the fancy of exhibitors from Kuwait, Lebanon, UK, Turkey, Spain, USA, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Iran, China and more, who congregated at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre to network and share ideas for growth and development. Deals worth QR 15 Million were signed.

Abdulrahman Saleh Al Obaidly, Chairman of HiSky for Tourism and Exhibitions, the organisers of the exhibition, said that the idea stems from the vision of the Emir to broaden the economic horizons and focus on the significance of self-sufficiency.

It is expected that post 2022, Qatar will maintain a new chapter of economic progress focused on knowledge sectors and developing international expertise and talent.

Embargo a boon in disguise?

It’s been nearly a year since the Saudi Arabia-led blockade came into effect. If the idea was to stifle Qatar’s progressive stride, it has failed miserably. What it has done instead is it has stimulated the tiny nation into becoming more resolute and self-reliant. It triggered the emergence of a new Qatar.

While it was tough going initially, the siege finally drove Qatar to focus on turning hardships into privilege and freedom. There has been an explosion of developmental activities in all sectors of the economy. It is rapidly achieving food security with new-fangled urgency after the blockading countries severed supply routes. The predicament inspired Qatari farm owners to expand farmlands and amplify food and fodder productions with government support. Thousands of Jersey cows have been flown down from Australia to boost milk production and make Qatar self-reliant in dairy products.

As per a ministry report, Qatar’s poultry sector has seen a production surge from 40 to 80 percent since blockade took effect. It is also becoming self-sufficient in fresh meat by producing 100 percent of its requirements by 2018 end. The country has doubled its livestock and increasing fish yield with the start of fishing projects in its territorial waters.

Qatar has been continuously intensifying and deepening its trade relationship with a number of friendly nations. Metro and light railway networks and FIFA World Cup-related ventures are progressing advancing unimpeded. Qatar’s economy is predicted to remain one of the fastest growing in the region with a projected 3.4 growth in 2018.

Diversification will boost employment opportunities

Given the limited local population and the workforce in Qatar, the additional employment opportunities generated during the process of economic diversification will benefit locals as well as expatriates from around the world.

There was a reported decrease in job advertisements in Qatar at an average rate of 20% per month in the initial phase due to the blockade. However, the changing dynamics and the growing thrust on economic diversification through the setting up of new industries with the injection of foreign investments promises a robust market for people looking to make a living in the world’s richest country.

Although the Qatar government is already involved in reforming the labour laws, it must now also consider making it favourable enough to attract employees from various nationalities to fulfil its future workforce demands that is expected to continue to rise.