Since COVID-19 broke out in China in December 2019 and then spread to rest of the world, the news has been flooded with the pandemic and its impact on the world.

The first cases of COVID-19 began to appear in Qatar in March 2020. But even before then, the news has been all about COVID-19, overshadowing some other important news we’ve probably missed. There has been much going on in the country beyond COVID-19. Here are a few highlights:

Qatar announces new labour reforms for expatriates

On 16 January 2020, with immediate effect, Qatar announced that exit permits to be removed for expatriates who are not currently subject to Qatar’s Labour Law. The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, issued Ministerial Decision No 95 of 2019, amending exit procedures and removing exit permits with immediate effect for expatriates who are not subject to Qatar’s Labour Law. Under the new decision, domestic workers subject to Law No 15 of 2017 are also free to leave the country either temporarily or permanently during their employment contract.

Pearl Monument reinstalled at Al Wakra Old Souq

Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has relocated the well-known shell sculpture, Pearl Monument, on 31 March 2020 to the Al Fardah Roundabout in Al Wakra Old Souq adjacent to Al Wakra port.

The Pearl Monument was removed from its original location in Al Wakra to help convert the Pearl Roundabout into a signal-controlled intersection as part of Al Wakra Main Road Upgrade Project.

Giraffe born in Doha Zoo

The Doha Zoo, which is affiliated with the Public Parks Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, witnessed the birth of a giraffe on 8 April 2020.

The giraffe was isolated under the supervision of a specialised veterinary unit to receive the necessary medical care, and to ensure its nutrition and safety. The Ministry shared pictures of the giraffe and its baby on its social media accounts.

Qatar Airways Cargo sets record

On 23 April 2020, Qatar Airways Cargo set a new record of operating most number of flights to several global destinations in one day.

The award-winning international cargo carrier operated 136 cargo flights to over 50 destinations worldwide. This included 75 freighter flights and 61 freight-only passenger flights. With global air freight capacity declining, Qatar Airways Cargo has increased operations to ensure the continuity of global trade and movement of essential medical and aid supplies. The airline continues to operate a significant cargo schedule with approximately 100 flights per day.

Qatar bid to host 2030 Asian Games

On 23 April 2020, Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) announced its bidding to host the 21st edition of the Asian Games in 2030. Qatar hosted the 15th Asian Games in 2006, achieving great success and it was a milestone in the history of Qatar sport. ‘We believe it is time to bid to host it again to welcome all of Asia to our country,’ said Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, president of the Qatar Olympic Committee. The host city will be decided at the OCA General Assembly meeting in Sanya, China, on November 29.

Qatar renews it calls to end unjust and unlawful blockade 

On 25 April 2020, the State of Qatar has renewed the call to end the unjust and unlawful blockade imposed on it, stressing the disappointment of the accounts upon which the blockading countries relied on to undermine the State of Qatar and its sovereign decision, as well as the failure of the policies that relied on the separation of brotherly peoples. It stated that these policies have affected the solidarity and regional cooperation, which has become more necessary amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

This came in a statement by HE Ambassador Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif Al Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations, in writing to the UN Security Council, which held a virtual meeting last month on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue.

Diesel and gasoline prices drop

Qatar Petroleum (QP) has reduced the price for super and premium grade petrol for May 2020. A price list released by QP on 30 April 2020 showed that premium grade petrol will cost QAR1 per litre in May, which is 25 dirhams less than the price in April and Super will be available for QAR1.05 per litre, a reduction of 25 dirhams as compared to last month. Diesel will cost 25 dirhams less in May and is priced at QAR1.05 per litre. The fuel prices were significantly reduced in April and March 2020 as well.


Author: Ola Diab

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