Archive for May, 2012

Answers for the Villaggio Qatar Fire

We asked the community to tell us what their questions were about the tragic Villaggio fire. Since ILQ is all about YOUR voice, we’ve tried to put it all together. We don’t have all the answers but we’ll populate this as we do.

The Ministry of Interior posted that there would be a press conference at 5:30pm today which was then moved to 6pm, then delayed to 6:30 but finally started at 7pm. QTV will be airing the conference at 8pm.

The Minister of Interior has expressed his condolences to the families of those who had died in the fire in Villagio

Read up >; Click here

Answers to the Villaggio Qatar Fire

Big Fire in Villaggio

iLoveQatar received tweets, posts, and facebook messages about a fire in Villaggio. Follow @qatarnews and @dohanews on twitter. You can also visit the LIVE thread here: Breaking: Fire in Villaggio

 

Update: Video added by Muhammed Moslih

Why Qatar needed the Olympics

There’s been a lot of talk about the Olympics. I was very excited at the thought of us getting it. Not only does Qatar have what’s considered to be unlimited cash to spend on such an event, but over 75% of the Olympic requirements were already met. We had a strong chance, sadly I didn’t expect that one of the main reasons we would be rejected was for weather alone. (That means that this part of the world will NEVER host the WORLD Olympics.). I’m interested in getting the Olympic report to see how Qatar scored. What could this have done for the country though?

It’s the fact that it would have brought further development and change that excited me. Although Qatar is already getting a lot of attention, having the Olympics would have made more focus on us. More attention is a good thing when it comes to change. It forces development.

Laws would have to change because people will start comparing rights of other companies with those received here in Qatar. The exit permit comes to my mind, the Human Rights Authority would be given more funds and higher responsibilities, there would have been even more construction in anticipation for the games (more commercial areas, better roads, speed up public transport solutions, etc..), plus it would have brought a huge amount of businesses interested in opening up and investing in Qatar.

Why do I personally want the games? I want to show the world the meaning of Arabic hospitality. I want to see foreigners come into Qatar and enjoy Qatari kindness. I want those who are corrupted to be exposed as a result of scrutiny, I want laws and regulations to be reformed and there to be more “open-ness” within the country, and I also want there to be a better perception of our culture. At the end of the day, Qatar’s Olympic motto was just right, the Doha 2020 Olympics would be ‘inspiring change’.

Noora Al Mannai, the chief executive of Doha 2020 brings up some great points. She said, “With so many sports venues already in place and budgeted for, we felt that we offered the IOC great certainty and a low cost Games plan as well as an exciting legacy vision, especially around developing women’s sport in the Middle East.

“However for Doha, it will always be a question of when not if.”

That’s the spirit!

Studying Abroad or choosing Education City?


Master Plan

I’m a huge fan of Qatar Foundation’s initiatives. I love the push for the development of a knowledge-based economy through Education City especially since the education system was quite poor not too long ago.

I actually studied in an IB school in Bahrain. At the time my father was one of the heads of Gulf Air (Qatar had a share in the airline and this was before Qatar Airways existed) and their Head Office was (and still is) on the island. The education system was considered to be ahead of Qatar, there were more choices when it came to private schools, and parents had a choice of putting their children in a school with a British, American, Canadian, or French curriculum.

Anyway, before I go off into too much of a tangent, let’s get back to talking about Education City. Look at Qatar now! We’ve got more schools, choices of universities, and the nation is encourage to ‘Think’ and ‘Innovate’; just in case you weren’t sure, there were signs, adverts, and giant words on the cornice that spelled it out for you. Education City itself is a great idea. Getting the world’s best universities together in the same area and walk-able campus. So much so that more foreign students are choosing to come to education city for their further education and more Qatari’s are starting to choose to stay in the country.

Two thoughts that come to my mind though are 1) what’s missing in Education city? and 2) is it better for a Qatari to study here in Qatar than going off abroad?

I feel like the university campuses are still lacking in facilities and in having that community feel. As beautifully designed as they are, they don’t feel like the campuses I studied at and visited when I was in the UK. Campuses had squares or outdoor common areas, restaurants, cafes, recreational areas, or even arcades. It felt like a little town. Plus most universities were close to actual town centers. At the moment students are sort of isolated. Most students need a car to get around (alright this is Doha so it’s understandable), but they’re quite far from the main city. I loved being able to get up, go to a seminar, and then grab the uni bus and head to the town center that was 10 minutes away, have dinner, watch a movie, and head back to uni. I’ve been told by some students that there’s a nickname for the mood they get into because they don’t feel like they’ve got enough to do, it’s called the “Doha Depression”. Honestly, it’ depressing to hear that such a phrase or expression exists. When I pressed to ask why they felt that way, I was told that they didn’t think there was enough to do or places to go. Honestly, part of university life is the social experience. Learning to interact, mingle, make friends with strangers, hang out, play sports, and explore. I’ve heard of great plans to build malls, more sports grounds, and even a cinema, but I haven’t seen any plans so far. I wonder what the hold up is.

It was also fun having different universities competing…. For anything! “We’ve got the best looking building, we’ve got the best cafes, we’ve got the best courses for Sociology 305, we’ve got—“ you get the point. Right now I feel like Education City is the university and the different universities are departments. Not only because they’re so close to each other, but because of the shared student spaces. Should each university be more independent infrastructure wise as well?

When it comes to more Qataris choosing to study here, the question is whether it’s the best choice. It’s a personal thing, that’s for sure, but I loved studying in the UK. I made friends with people from all over the world, I learned to be independent, I learned how to manage funds living in an apartment alone, and I learned to understand things from different perspectives. Studying abroad gives you experiences that no classroom can provide.  It’s both scary and exciting to be in a foreign setting and being immersed in a new cultural environment. I found new challenges and found ways to solve new problems.

It also gave me appreciation for what I have here in Qatar. No tax worries and lower cost of living are two that come to my mind. Personally I’d take studying abroad every time.

One popular Qatari group called Qatari & Qatariah had questioned the public with “Do you think that Qataris who study abroad are more intelligent or can perform better in the work place?”.  It was a mixed bag of answers. Some said that intelligence depended on the abilities of the person regardless of where they studied, but most agreed that studying abroad gave them that extra edge and a different way of thinking.

I’m proud of the way that Qatar has progressed in the Education sector. We’re doing some amazing things. Qatar Foundation and Education City are encouraging people to read, question, and create. That’s exactly the type of social development the country needs to create a country of the future. Whether choosing to study abroad or here in Qatar. One thing’s for sure, it’s great that we now have more choices.

 

 

 

Qatar’s evolving skyline

I had to share this picture that was added to ILQ’s Facebook page. Take a look at how Doha’s skyline changed in such a short period of time.

 


Click image to enlarge

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.