As part of its ongoing networking opportunities for its members, the Qatar British Business Forum (QBBF) held a luncheon on 22 October 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha in attendance of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Ajay Sharma, and the Team Qatar Channel Swim, who spoke about their historic attempt to swim across the English Channel.
The team kicked off the first attempt ever made by Qataris from Folkestone, a port town near Dover on the English coast, covering a distance of around 48 km in 16 hours and 34 minutes on a relay basis, to reach the French coast near Wissant, a seaside village between Calais and Boulogne.
We are delighted to have Team Qatar, who successfully managed to swim the English Channel. We believe their presentation will inspire our members that nothing is impossible in life, whether in business or in personal life. It all requires the right frame of mind and determination. What Team Qatar has achieved makes all of us very proud as we consider Qatar as our second home. We very much look forward to finding out how they have achieved this difficult and almost impossible task.’
The team is made up of seven amateur athletes including Dr Faleh Mohamed Ali, Dr Mohammed Al Kuwari, Dr Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, Dr Khalid Al Jalham, Nasser Al Mohannadi, Fahad Al Buenain, and Talal Al Emadi. Aged between 34 and 52 years old, they have full-time jobs in various fields but they share a passion for endurance and adventurous sports.
At 52, Dr Faleh Mohamed Hussain Ali, a surgeon and healthcare official, is the oldest member of the team and was the one who brought them together to accomplish this challenge. He said:
The point of us swimming the Channel is to inspire people that anything can be done if you put your mind to it. Our goal is to inspire the community, especially in the time we are in with the blockade and everything. It doesn’t matter who can be against you or what sorts of conditions are laid out, just put your mind to it, put in the right work and do the training.’
Team member Nasser Al Mohannadi, a 42-year-old experienced triathlete and senior adviser at Qatar Petroleum (QP), gave QBBF members a short presentation of their challenging achievement. He said:
We are a group of different ages, experiences and disciplines. We are not professional swimmers. We are immature. We have different backgrounds, working in different fields but we realised we have the passion, commitment and energy do it. But what’s the mission? What’s the objective? It’s to be the first Qataris to swim the channel from England to France.’
Since 1875, only around 1,500 solo swimmers and 765 relay teams have successfully made it across the busiest waterway in the world, known for its cold waters, strong tides and a list of other hazards that include cold winds, waves, oil slicks and jellyfish.
QBBF hosted the Team Qatar Channel Swim just a week after welcoming WISH CEO Sultana Afdhal, as part of its efforts to highlight Qatari individuals who have undertaken successful achievements for Qatar on British soil.
His Excellency Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma said:
Qatar and the UK have a historic relationship. One which is going from strength to strength and continues to develop in traditional ways, such as through trade and investment and through defence cooperation, but also in new and exciting ways, whether that’s through digital technology, innovation, education, science or healthcare. And I’m very confident that the relationship between Qatar and the UK is going to be even better in the years to come as we show our support for Qatar’s World Cup 2022 and for Qatar’s 2030 National Vision.’
‘As today has shown, QBBF is a great way of introducing the business community here to different elements of Qatari society and what’s happening in Qatar. We’ve seen that today with a really inspiring presentation by the Qatari team who swam the English Channel,’ he added.
QBBF is expanding its relationship with the British Embassy in Qatar. According to Turkman:
We might be taking over British Chamber of Commerce, which will add one more wing to what we’re doing. In the past, the Chamber and QBBF were two separate organisations, and there is definitely a plan to amalgamate and have it as one organisation. Basically, it increases our chances, efforts and gives more opportunities to our members.’