Aspire Zone Foundation Earth Hour 2014 Campaign

This is one of my favorite campaigns I took part in.

In Aspire Zone Foundation, we cope very fast with new branding and trends, interactive back- and fore-grounds for twitter, or Logo/header intersections on Facebook.

We have done this with many campaigns, but this time, there is something cool about it.

It’s for earth hour, when the whole world goes black for an hour. We are adapting the “+” in “60+” in Earth Hour’s logo. We’re going black for 5 days instead of an hour.

Aspire Zone will go black on the day, March 29th, from 8:30om – 9:30pm

We have taken all our social media black for the day in a cool design of our iconic Torch Doha Hotel and Khalifa International Stadium

Here is the look and feel of our social media:

insta L&F

G+ L&F

facebook L&F

twitter - L&F

Doha after the rain

Here are some shots of Doha, Qatar after it rained for over 10 hours. Check the Doha Album on flickr.

Mirrored in the rain

Stop! or not.

Rain

It rained in Qatar, In the start of December. Rain is always beautiful…. Welcome back Winter.

Rain, Rain

Rain, Welcome back, Winter

Rain has a weird mix of happiness and sorrow. Can’t describe it, but it always brings back different memories.

Rain, Rain

Rain, and its memories

You have Tuberculosis? Here’s your ticket home

Tuberculosis(TB) and AIDS are very serious diseases, they have many things in common, they both can be fatal, not easily recognized and sometimes the patient is very healthy, yet they get the shocking news in a routine medical check up. Such traumatic experience is not easy on anyone, especially on those who have to be deported afterwards.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) they take these diseases very seriously, maybe a bit too serious. For example a TB diagnosed patient can only stay for 3 months at most before being deported to their home country.

Also a TB-cured person is considered unfit and is not allowed to the GCC countries, ever.

GCC depend mainly on migrant labor, averaging 35.7% of total population for the GCC countries. Most of them come from countries where they have a higher risk getting infected with these diseases.

Y.B is an Eastern European who used to live in Qatar. She worked for a five-star airline as a cabin crew. She was one of the unfortunate people who have been diagnosed with TB.

Like many of us she was doing a medical check up when she found out that she has a tiny scar in her lung, a “dead scar” is what this few millimeters long scar is called. That’s a trace of TB; lucky for her it was latent TB, yet she was quickly deported.
WHO VS GCC

World Health Organization (WHO).

TB is a treatable and curable disease. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), since 1995, over 46 million people have been successfully treated and an estimated 7 million lives saved through use of DOTS and the Stop TB Strategy recommended by WHO.

Here are the DOTS five-points to help monitor and cure TB that WHO recommends in comparison with what happens in GCC.

First, ‘secure political commitment, with adequate and sustained financing.’

Usually the TB patient is fired from their job, and gets deported to his country in a matter of few months, stopping the income, therefore sustaining the treatment becomes more difficult.

Second, ‘ensure early case detection, and diagnosis through quality-assured bacteriology.’

It depends on how early the patient knows; if he or she knows from the GAMCA centers in their country then they are on their own from the start, no consideration from the medical centers and no transferring to a proper hospital to treat them.

This whole process is facing wide criticism from many people calling to stop GAMCA as they describe it as “Immoral attitude and lack of medical examination guidelines for workers at the GAMCA medical centers.”

If they know while they are inside the GCC, that’s a dramatic treatment. Doctors usually don’t give much detail about the disease. Most patients have described the process as “a horrible experience.

Third,  ‘provide standardized treatment with supervision and patient support.’

According to the National Tuberculosis Program Manager in Qatar, Dr. Abdul Latif al-Khal, said in a report earlier, “usually residents found with TB were not deported except if the sponsors insisted as in the case of domestic workers such as house-helps and drivers.”

In the course of three months, neither house-help nor driver, Y.B. was deported.

She was left with the minimal amount of information about her medical condition, “During every medical test I did, nothing was discussed directly with me. They just told me I had TB and nothing about it, what kind or whatever,” she said.

Fourth and Fifth, ‘ensure effective drug supply and management. Monitor and evaluate performance and impact.’

Dr. Al-Khal explained, “We provide treatment to all TB patients and we have a country-wide treatment program that registers and follows up on all the cases.”

The usual course of treatment of TB takes up to 6 months. In different cases, the patients are deported within 2-3 months with the least amount of information. Not only that, there is no coordination with their home countries and they are not provided with any medical documentation.

“I went home empty handed, facing a fatal disease I know nothing about.” She expressed.

Does GCC care about the patients?

Anyone who had TB and has been treated properly is considered cured and should not be discriminated against,” said Dr. Mario Raviglione, the director of the Stop TB department at the World Health Organization (WHO) to a local UAE newspaper. “This becomes an issue of human rights.” he added.

Y.B. is now healthy, working and enjoying a normal life in Europe, yet she is separated from her fiancé who lives in Dubai, whom she cannot visit, since she is banned from entering the entire GCC. “They just drove my future family apart, it’s senseless,” She added.

That’s one example out of many, one of them was a nurse who got the disease from a patient and wasn’t allowed back to the country she was working in, because she was doing her job.

Just to remind you people nurses are the reason why you are well and healthy today and this is how you repay us?” she complained.

HIV

Same process happens with HIV patients. A South African journalist who has been in Qatar for only 2 months faced a cruel experience. He went to get a normal medical check up, without knowing the results he was taken to prison, then had his contract terminated and been given a warning, either to leave the country within 42 hours or face arrest.

Did the deportation contain the disease?

Such direct deportation policy has sabotaged the containment of TB in the UAE. The fear of deportation has made the patients do not come forward which spread the disease. According to a UAE local journal, “Cases of pulmonary TB – the most infectious – more than doubled in the capital from 193 in 2009 to 450 in 2011, and 143 were reported in the first three months of this year alone, according to new figures from the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD).”

Global Issue

63 countries have some form of HIV (or TB) specific restriction to entry, stay and residence of immigrants; and 28 countries deport people once HIV+/TB status is known,According to Dr. Gilles Cesari, Regional Director at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union)’s office in Singapore.

The need of a global awareness on such diseases is obviously required, the act of throwing the patient from a country to another just because they have a disease –clearly they didn’t ask for it – is just a bit harsh. Forget where he or she is from. They are human beings after all, help them get better.

How Qatar Classifies its citizens

I grew up in Qatar, my parents been here since 1978, and I’ve been hearing their stories about the 80’s here in Qatar. The following is some of their experience and mine.

There are about four different classes of people in Qatar, and not like some other countries, they are not basically categorized by their social or financial statement, but by origin.

Qatar is the country where people ask you where are you from before what’s your name.

Of course you would think that on top of the list or the class ladder, would be Qataris? It’s their country after all. They get special treatment, for examples they don’t get fired from their jobs in places like (Hint: a well known media channel).

But they are not! Americans are. Yes Americans, especially US soldiers. Not even Qataris can use their special treatment on them, for example, if a Qatari person got into a fight with an American and both went to the police, (unless the American was drunk) the authorities would let him loose and try to end it smoothly. That would not be the case if the other person were from “another class”.

I would say a tie between those two on number one.

Second but not too far away would be the rest of GCC, especially Saudis and Emiratis. They get similar treatment as Qataris, not their privileges of course; they have those where they came from.

Third, would be Europeans, Canadian and other Foreigners who basically have blonde hair and blue eyes and don’t speak Arabic. They do whatever they like, but they get a firm treatment if they break a law. The “weaker” your country is, the less “Class” you are. All European countries are not the same of course.

Fourth, would be Arabs with high or medium level jobs. Managers and other similar jobs, they have contacts, they usually earn respect of others. The authorities treat them with respect, so do the residents.

Asians would be fifth. Where ever from Asia, doesn’t matter much, they get treated badly. Especially Indians, Nepalese, Philippines, Pakistan and its neighbors. They are always wrong to authorities, and they are the easiest to deport. Their countries never step in, so they don’t mind mistreat them here.

Last, like most places but a bit to an extreme, are workers. No matter where they are from, labors get treated like slaves here. It’s the issue of the decade in Qatar, till 2022 World cup it will stay the main issue for human rights organizations.

The sponsorship allows their companies to make them work whenever they want, and the workers don’t report it, and sometimes they do, but it gets ignored.

Two things matter in “Classing” or actually discriminating citizens, how weak your country is, mostly economically and politically; if they never took a stand for their people, then you are on the bottom of the ladder. And if Qatar has problems with your country, they close visas or let those people go, in a political statement.

Then later comes money, your economical level. For example, A mid-level American wouldn’t get treated the same as a Soldier or a manager.

It’s sad that this country is like this, and I can tell you, it was worse, a lot of people, especially Qataris changed, and got less prejudice.  The country is trying to get better, but as long as the country uses the sponsorship model, many people will abuse the power in their hands, and this act will never go away.

Villagio reopens after almost 4 months

The famous Villagio shopping mall is opened after a huge fire in a day care took the lives of 19 people; most of them were children back in 28th of May. This fire was the biggest in years and the most difficult to the civil defense because of the location of the fire and the lack of security and safety measures.

This fire laid the eyes on the security and safety issues in all public places, especially shopping malls. That’s why another big shopping mall was closed for a while, and some other public places.

The fire caused a lawsuit that is still pending investigation and caused the arrest of the mall’s manager and the day care’s owner.

Fire Alarm button still has the prints of smoke from the fire in late May 2012

 

Today, Thursday, September 20th the big mall is finally reopened. The mall is opened from Zara shop, a few shops away from where the blaze took place till the cinemas. And from Go Sport which was right next to the day care till the food court and the playground.

The part from gate 3 to gate 4 where the fire took place is totally closed.

A new security task force is now inside the mall, called Villagio security.
I spoke to one of them; he said that they work side by side with G4S, the usual security forces. “The closed part will take a long time to reopen, a year maybe,” a Villagio security guard said.

“Nothing changed in the undamaged sector,” he added. All the changes are in the safety and security measures, the obvious changes are the fire exists; they are guarded by security to ease the evacuation in case of a fire.

Most of the shops are not opened yet, they are doing clean ups from the smoke, but everything will be ready in the next few days, according to shop employees.

Every shop had a paper on its window saying what the shop’s maintenance, along with few notes of rules such as, having a fire extinguisher, only use heavy machines at night till 8 AM and many other rules made by the mall’s management.

The food court wasn’t open, most of the restaurants are also cleaning up and getting ready, however the cinema is already offering tickets for today.

Pictures and videos are not allowed and permissions are needed from the mall’s management.

The atmosphere was a bit tense, security was doubled maybe tripled on every entrance and emergency exits. Management officials were around the mall, which refused to give any statements.

Many visitors were looking around to see what’s new with the mall and see what the fire did to the buildings. Most of them were talking about the fire.

Villagio shopping mall is now open

Doha’s US Embassy Protest is Useless.

Qaradawy giving the Friday Speech about the Anti-Islam Movie and SyriaBasically today’s protest is an international invite by Shiekh Yusuf Al Qaradawi and the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).

Qaradawi spoke today in the Friday prayers and talked about two things, the anti-Islam movie (if we can call it that) and the role of Arabic officials to support Syria’s revolution.

He said about the Movie, ”It’s unfair to put all the guilt on a full nation, they are few Americans, including the same priest who wanted to burn the Quraan before and some Christian Egyptians who live in the US.”

In a way of replying to the movie and in a way to present the Prophet (PBUH) to non-Muslims, Qatar is making a movie about the Prophet’s life.

Going to the embassies and breaking it or throwing rocks at it or burn it is not the right solution. We need to ask USA to have an official stand against such acts of defamation of religions.

The second part of the speech was about Syria; Al Qaradawi asked all the Arabic countries to help Syria, in many ways including sending reinforcements of soldiers or weapons to the free army. “It’s their duty, religiously.”

After that a charged crowd head to the US Embassy which is very near to the mosque in many controversial chants such as “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama,” referring of course to Osama Bin Laden. It’s not the first time I hear this chant, I heard it before in Egypt, back in July 29th when Tahrir was full of Salafis and Islamists, some extremists chanted exactly the same chant, who believe Bin Laden is a hero, and here some Qataris did today.

The US Embassy under the Qatari Police protection

The US Embassy under the Qatari Police protection

In a march that is not only about the Prophet or demanding the US to take a stand as Qaradawi proposed, the march had few different demands, such as releasing two prisoners, one of them is Ali Bin Saleh El Marry who was accused to be part of al qaeeda and was arrested in 2001, and the other is an Egyptian sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman who is currently serving a life sentence in USA as well.

Demanding the release Ali Bin Saleh El Marry the Qatari Prisoner in the US

Demanding the release Ali Bin Saleh El Marry the Qatari Prisoner in the US

Demanding the release of Omar Abel Rahman from US Prisons

Demanding the release Ali Bin Saleh El Marry the Qatari Prisoner in the US

As well as expelling the US Ambassador, and some demanded the shutdown of the US Military Base in Qatar, “it kills thousands of mulsims,” the banner said.

Along with chants like “Islamic, Islamic, whether the Jews like it or not,” who made me believe this protest is useless, if not backfiring on the cause. I asked dozen of people at least if they watched the movie and they all answered with No, most of them said they don’t want to cause it’s insulting and the rest had different excuses.

People Demand shutting down the US Military base that kills muslims

People Demand shutting down the US Military base that kills muslims

This made me wonder, are they just following the mislead leaders? Or they sincerely believe that’s the best solution? In both cases, it’s just sad.

In another positive note, Dr.Amr Khalid Spoke to MBC and he condemned the recent actions in many places of attacking the embassies, he said, ” The best action to demand other officials would be writing a new law in the United Nations (UN) against Defamation of religions, and whoever does it will face a strong official action wherever they are.” In another way, he asked everyone who has access to social media to post stories about the Prophet (PBUH) in all the languages and share it with every foreign person they know.

This is a practical solution, way better than just chanting, especially if the chants are not related to the cause. In comparison with many other solutions that can be applied in such cases – including my personal favorite, ignore the idiots – chanting and protesting here gives this so called movie, free publicity.

The movie isn’t even out, it’s just a very stupid trailer, I couldn’t even watch more than a minute from how silly it is, I just closed it and went on with my life, and I believe everyone should do that, and focus on the other critical issues, like Syria, or Bahrain or Yemen.

More Photos of the Protest can be found here.

 

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