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All photos by Reem Saad

People looking to do some more indoor shopping as Eid Al Fitr approaches may want to check out a new Ramadan Tourist Festival that opened in Qatar this week.

The festival, also known as Eidieh, is located at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) near Education City.

It includes heritage halls with henna decorators, weavers and fishermen, fun/educational activities for children and cultural performances.

QNCC Ramadan Eidieah

Reem Saad / Doha News

QNCC Ramadan Eidieah

According to organizers, a bazaar that features 200 kiosks from 15 countries worldwide will open on Sunday, June 26. Religious sermons and shows will also be part of the festival.

Like the indoor Ramadan souq set up at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) in West Bay, this market is open after ishaa prayers. It will sell jewelry, antiques, clothes, health and beauty products, video games, flowers and household items.

But the main focus of the bazaar will be exclusive products designed by locals, organizers said in a statement.

There’s also more of an educational focus for kids.

During a recent visit, children could be seen clapping and laughing along with their parents as clowns took to the stage and wooed the crowd with several tricks and dance moves.

There’s also face-painting corners, a bouncy castle, a photo booth, a 9-D cinema, a maze and other features.

More competition

Last year’s launch of the DECC has intensified competition in Qatar for large venue space.

Though DECC officials have previously said they aim to attract new business to Qatar, the more centrally located center has taken away some business from existing spaces.

Qatar Motor Show 2016

Chantelle D'mello

Qatar Motor Show 2016

For example, both the Qatar Motor Show and the Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition moved to the DECC from the QNCC this year.

This new Eidieh bazaar appears to be an attempt on the QNCC’s part to remind visitors about what it has to offer, according to Ismail Al Ansari, general manager of festival sponsor Media One.

Speaking to Doha News, he said:

“QNCC wanted to show that it’s ready and capable of holding fun and cultural events that many can attend, as opposed to just holding exhibitions and conferences. So they are sort of trying to break that barrier by welcoming more people.”

The Eidiah festival is open through July 30 from 9pm to 1am daily.

Thoughts?


More Ramadan coverage here:

Shrek the Musical

Premium Events

Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical will launch its Middle East debut in Doha when it opens for an 11-day run next month, organizers have said.

The stage version of the popular 2001 DreamWorks film will premiere in Qatar on March 9 and run until March 19 at Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) near Education City.

The family-friendly song-and-dance show will feature old favorite anthems from the movie including I’m a Believer as well as some new songs, organizers Premium Events said in a statement.

Tickets are already on sale online at Ticketmaster, or from Ticketmaster booths in Carrefour stores in City Center, Villaggio and Landmark malls from today.

The website is currently only offering tickets for purchase until March 12. Tickets for shows on the other dates will be released “soon,” organizers told Doha News, although could not confirm when this would happen.

An “early bird” offer is available until Feb. 13, with tickets starting at QR195 and going up depending on seating and category. Also under the special offer price, tickets cost QR275, QR375, QR1,195 and QR1,995.

There are matinee and morning performances for families. Evening performances are only for children over six years old, organizers said.

The story

Shrek the Musical, which debuted in Seattle before opening on Broadway in late 2008, is based on William Steig’s 1990 book Shrek!, which inspired the DreamWorks film of the same name 11 years later.

Shrek the Musical

Tristram Kenton/Premium Events

Shrek the Musical

It has toured through countries in the US, UK, Europe, Asia and South America. Versions of the stage production are currently playing in Germany, the UK and Japan and have been seen by more than two million people since it first launched eight years ago.

The story follows a green ogre who, because of his looks, has been feared and isolated. As a grown-up, he retreats to live alone in a green swamp, but his solitude is disrupted by a gang of well-known fairy tale characters (Pinocchio, Cinderella, the Three Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf and many more).

They complain they have been banished from their kingdom of Duloc by the evil Lord Farquaad for being freaks, and he warned them they will have them put to death if they ever return.

Shrek sets out to get their home back for them, with the deal that they then leave him alone.

On the way he rescues a talkative donkey, who becomes his sidekick. When they meet, Lord Farquaad strikes a deal with Shrek – he will returns the characters to their homes if Shrek rescues Princess Fiona.

Shrek embarks on what turns out to be a love story featuring an unlikely hero.

The launch of Shrek follows the stage version of Beauty and the Beast, which also played at QNCC in November.

In partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority, the show has been brought to Qatar by Premium Events, a collaboration between Qatar-based agency TripleTwo and event organizers Premium Projects.

“We are excited to bring this theater spectacle which features a much loved character all over the world, to Qatar. Shrek the Musical brings the much–loved DreamWorks characters to life, live on stage, in an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza. It is colourful, positive and most of all highly entertaining,” Hussein Fakhri, chief executive of TripleTwo, said.

Do you plan to go? Thoughts?

Promotional poster for Qatar show

The Illusionists 1903/Facebook

Promotional poster for Qatar show

With reporting from Heba Fahmy

A live magic stage show due to open in Doha tomorrow (Nov. 18) will go ahead as planned, organizers have said, despite a Twitter campaign that has called for the performances to be canceled.

The Illusionists 1903 is set for a four-day run with nine performances at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Education City from Nov. 18-21, but has met with some controversy as critics claim it offends local religious values and customs.

According to its advertising, the show features eight international magicians and promises “some of the greatest and most dangerous illusions ever built” from what is billed as “the golden age of magic” at the turn of the last century.

Acts include sleight-of-hand magic from showman Mark Kalin, who has made an American Airlines plane disappear in past performances, a clairvoyant double act, a female conjurer and silent comedy that includes juggling and slapstick.

This will be the act’s first time in Qatar. The show has just finished a run in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and travels to Australia for a series of performances through December.

Other versions of the show have already been performed on Broadway, in the Emirates for the past three years and a preview performance has just opened in London’s West End.

Twitter campaign

Despite its success abroad, the upcoming Qatar performances have attracted online opposition. Under the Arabic hashtag  (May God keep Qatar safe from magic), several people are calling on authorities to cancel the shows.

They claim the show is incompatible with the ethics, principles and habits of Qatar society, according to local Arabic daily Al Sharq.

Translation: The magic show is naked women and music: it’s a waste of time and money.

Translation: Magic is against Islam and one of the issues cited in the Quran as atheism.

Others argue that those offended by the event aren’t required to attend:

Translation: I hope that these events are not cancelled, as some have said. The Illusionists provides visual tricks, not magic. The request to cancel the event doesn’t represent me.

Meanwhile, according to the results of a Twitter poll that more than 1,100 people have voted on, opinion about the show seems divided, with 42 percent approving of it and 58 percent opposing it as of this morning.

Magic and “witchcraft” can be controversial issues in Qatar. Earlier this week, the state’s Emir amended the penal code to impose tougher penalties on those found to be engaging in what was termed witchcraft and “quackery.”

A prison sentence of three to 15 years and/or a maximum fine of QR200,000 can be imposed on those practicing for free, or for a fee.

Show must go on

The criticism has caused some confusion about whether the show will continue as planned, especially after photographs were circulated on social media showing some Arabic posters of the event being taken down.

However, speaking to Doha News, Dubai-based organizers Alchemy Project denied the performances would be canceled. CEO Mac S. Far said:

“It’s not true that the show has been cancelled – it is still going ahead. It has all the right permissions that the law in Qatar requires and was given permission from the Ministry of Culture on Oct. 25.”

Far said that in the last two days, the organizers had received complaints about the Arabic translation of the show’s previous promotional line “The golden age of magic,” which he said had been misunderstood by some.

The organizers are now retooling their posters with a different slogan, he said, adding:

“We are a family-friendly, funny, humorous show. Our intention has never been to insult anyone or to demean anyone’s religion. Other versions of this show have been held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for three years and have been very popular.

We are looking forward to a successful show in Doha and we hope people appreciate it.”

Tickets for the show cost from QR145/person up to QR1,995 and are available through online ticketing site TixBox.

What do you think about the show? Thoughts?