Browsing 'Culture' News

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A new company is taking aim at food waste in Qatar by collecting excess meals from grocery stores and restaurants and redirecting them to people in need.

Wa’hab soft-launched during the recently concluded Qatar International Food Festival, its founder Wardha Mamukoya told Doha News.

During the 11 day-event, the startup recovered some 1,000 “perfectly good, high-quality meals” that would have otherwise gone to waste, she added.

Wa'hab/Facebook

Food collected from the QIFF

The food was given to Eid Charity, which distributed it across Qatar to those who could benefit from it.

According to Mamukoya:

“Although we know for a fact that there are no cases of starvation in Qatar, we believe the less privileged can benefit from the perfectly good food being thrown away by food industries, including high-end five star hotels.”

To tackle what it calls a “mismanagement” in food distribution, Wa’hab is working to create a network that connects surplus food to those in need, she added.

The team

The company, whose Arabic name means give (in service), consists of a core team of five members, and an arsenal of young volunteers.

Thank you so much to our growing team of volunteers including @ahmed_wk430 and @bashar_mohammed13 who helped to collect surplus food from @qiff.qa to redistribute to those in need last night! You guys are awesome!! 👍👍👍 If you would like to volunteer please email your details to [email protected] and we look forward to hearing from you! #wahabqa #sharingiscaring #qatar #doha #food #share #picoftheday #photooftheday #love #help #roadto2022 @roadto2022

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It is operated by CEO Alanood Abdulaziz Jassim Al-Thani; Chief Technology Officer Ramees Muhammed Kakkodan, an expert on food handling and safety; Chief Information Officer Kim Wyatt, aka “Mama Baba Ghanoush;” and co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Shahid Abdusalam.

He is married to Mamukoya, who is also the COO of the company.

In addition to rescuing food, the Wa’hab aims to raise awareness about waste “so as to tackle the problem at its root,” Mamukoya said.

Growing problem

Qatar has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world – up to 1.8kg per day.

And discarded food accounts for more than half of Qatar’s municipal garbage.

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Local researchers have called this practice “shocking” and “unsustainable,” given that Qatar is a desert nation that imports 90 percent of what it eats.

“Food prepared and thrown away leads to loss of capital spent on resource requirements. In addition to saving costs, Wa’hab can also reduce the need to import more food to meet the demands of the growing population,” Mamukoya said.

She added that in the long term, the startup aims to help with food wastage during the 2022 World Cup. It also hopes to expand into other Gulf countries.

“By feeding people and not landfills, Wa’hab can ensure that everyone has enough to eat and portrays Qatar in a positive light. This also can be a motivation for other GCC countries to follow suit,” she concluded.

Thoughts?

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The Manhattan skyline

A Qatari man hoping to promote cross-cultural understanding and debunk myths about Muslims is launching a new Islamic art museum in downtown New York next month.

Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani told Doha News that he hopes the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art (IAIA) will “challenge stereotypes and grant artist, curators and writers from the region an opportunity to engage with a broader audience.”

The institute will present three to four temporary exhibitions a year.

IAIA

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They will feature artists from the Arab and Islamic world, with the aim of “enabling them to join a broader global conversation,” the IAIA’s website states.

Its first exhibition will go live on May 3 and involve Islamic architecture and geometry, Al Thani told Doha News.

“Though there are foundations in the US that engage in Arab and Islamic Art, the narratives presented and the exhibitions curated by these foundations are not quite reflective of our societies and cultures,” he added.

Background

A graduate of Georgetown University in Qatar’s School of Foreign Service, Al Thani has worked for the UN and Qatar Foundation.

He is currently writing a dissertation on Cezane and the advent of Fauvism and Cubism.

Cezane’s Card Players, reportedly bought by Qatar for record-breaking $250 million.

The IAIA is a non-profit organization funded by several donors from around the world, but does not have ties to governments, Al Thani said.

Qataris and Emiratis, including Mohammed Al Rabban, Sheikh Nasser Al-Thani, Sheikh Rashid Al-Thani, Safiya Al-Ghaith and Sheikha Sharifa Al-Qubaisi, are listed on the museum’s website as its founding benefactors.

Program

In addition to exhibitions, the institute also plans to launch a residency program. This will be for artists, critics and curators who are interested in engaging with a New York audience.

Residents will be provided housing and workspace, as well as learn about different artistic movements that originated in New York. They will also present work and projects at the IAIA.

Navin Sam / Doha News

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Another goal of the institute is to increase knowledge of Islamic civilization and history.

It plans to do this by engaging writers and scholars in translations and publications, the museum’s website states.

Finally, the IAIA is planning to host an outreach program with schools and universities through collaborations with Arab cultural center across the US, Al Thani said.

Thoughts?

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Hundreds of Qatar University students and community members have been debating gender segregation in school and society this week.

The discussion was sparked by a woman who was recently elected to the student union of QU’s College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, but then objected about the meetings being mixed.

Last month, Mariam Al-Dosari began complaining that the union was not accommodating her request to attend the meetings via video conference, so that she wouldn’t have to meet with male students face-to-face.

Translation: It is really strange that the student council meetings are gender-mixed as it contradicts Qatar University’s segregation policy in classes.

A few weeks later, in early March, Al-Dosari began complaining that her requests were not being met.

Hashtag debate

This led to the creation of a now-viral hashtag on Twitter, كلنا_مريم_الدوسري# (We are all Mariam Al-Dosari).

Many people who engaged in the debate said they sympathized with Al-Dosari’s plight, saying her request should have been honored.

Others saw the issue as an attempt to westernize Qatar in a way that goes against the country’s traditions and values.

Translation: I pity those who reduce this issue to make it only about Mariam. It simply isn’t. It’s a matter of principle; an issue pertaining to the chaste women of Qatar and the values virtue and modesty they were brought up with. Sooner or later the truth will prevail.

Translation: She lives in her home country and has a right to an education that suits her traditions and values.

Translation: Instead of teaching students freedom of expression and democracy a student is being punished by being expelled from the student council and then to add insult to injury, she gets yelled at as if expulsion isn’t enough.

Counterpoints

But many others said it was unreasonable to always expect things to be segregated by gender.

Some critics pointed out that Al-Dosari knew the format of the meetings before she became a representative.

And a few said students are capable of meeting each other in mixed company without anything untoward happening.

Translation: What kind of empowerment and enablement are you searching for and wishing to achieve in the future when you already refuse to attend official public meetings?

Translation: The seatings at the meetings are divided, the front rows are for female students and the back ones for males or the other way around. They don’t even sit next to each other.

Qatar University has not officially weighed in on the discussion, nor has the student union.

On Twitter, some have suggested that Al-Dosari is no longer on the student council, but she has not confirmed this.

A better future

For some, the debate raises a larger question about men and women’s interaction in society.

In an opinion piece this week, QU alum Shabeb Al Rumaihi pointed out that many of his university’s annual events, conferences and movie screenings were not segregated affairs.

Qatar University

Qatar University

“You can not bring a head of state or an international actor to give two separate lectures,” he said.

He added that he didn’t feel mixed events threatened Qatar’s cultural values, and that this helps facilitate female leadership.

“I see it as an opportunity to innovate a new cultural platform that believes in developing a society that needs men and women working together to develop a better future for Qatar.”

He concluded by pointing that during his undergraduate years, there were three female college deans at QU. Now, there’s only one.

Thoughts?