Ray Toh

Qatar skyline

It’s officially been 50 days since Qatar’s neighbors cut off ties with the country.

Reflecting on the occasion, Qatar residents have started a new hashtag on Twitter called #FiftyDaysSinceTheSiege.

In addition to expressing solidarity with Qatar, some are posting messages of thanks to supporters, as well as lessons learned over the past seven weeks.

What’s next

Qatar’s neighbors have faced increasing international pressure to end the boycott.

This has stopped them from escalating the dispute, and there are also some signs that the crisis is softening.

For example, officials have walked back on demands that Qatar close Al Jazeera, as well as 10 other conditions.

Wikimedia Commons

GCC

They are now asking the nation to agree to six general principles about fighting terrorism, among other things.

Additionally, the UAE has unblocked Qatar-based BeInSports.

However, no officials have committed to scheduling any dialogue or working out resolutions yet.

Thoughts?

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All photos courtesy of Ashghal

New pedestrian paths, 2,800 more parking spots and 86 additional streets have been added to the busy northern part of Qatar’s New Slata area, Ashghal has announced.

The 1.72 square km area falls between C-Ring and D-Ring road to the north and south, and Salwa and Rawdat Al Khail roads to the east and west.

According to the public works authority, the new streets should make it easier for residents and visitors to get to the main roads.

Ashghal

New Slata overhaul

The area is often congested because it is home to four schools, a kindergarten, five mosques and around 70 commercial buildings, Ashghal added in a statement.

A rainwater flooding solution has also been incorporated into the area, as well as 659 lighting poles with energy saving bulbs.

Ali Bin Talib St.

Meanwhile, work continues on Ali Bin Abi Talib St., which runs parallel to Salwa Road and connects C-Ring and D-Ring roads.

The project entails boosting the capacity of the road by widening the lanes and service roads in each direction.

Penn State/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The overhaul was expected to take until the end of this year. But Ashghal said this week that it will be done by September.

Thoughts?

SPA

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kicked off an official trip to the GCC yesterday with a visit to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

He first went to Jeddah, where he met King Salman and new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the ongoing GCC crisis.

Prior to leaving Istanbul, Erdogan stressed it “is not in anyone’s interests” to continue the dispute.

WAM

Flags of the boycotting nations (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt).

According to Al Jazeera, he also blamed unnamed “enemies” for seeking to “fire up tensions between brothers” in the region.

Erdogan has proven to be a key ally to Qatar since the country’s neighbors closed their borders and airspace, and is expected in Doha today.

He is the fifth world leader to visit the region to help resolve the crisis. It began nearly two months ago after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE closed their borders and airspace to Qatar for political reasons.

International support

So far, Turkey, France, the US and mediator Kuwait have all urged the Gulf states to end their fight with Qatar.

Just yesterday, the UK’s foreign secretary added his voice.

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs/Flickr

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson

In a statement, Boris Johnson welcomed recent changes Qatar made to its terrorism laws, adding:

“We hope in turn Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain respond by taking steps toward lifting the embargo. This will allow substantive discussions on remaining differences to begin.”

However, the boycotting countries continue to pressure Qatar to meet several demands.

In response to a speech the Emir made over the weekend, a senior UAE official welcomed Sheikh Tamim’s call for dialogue.

But he added that Qatar must make certain changes before talks can start.

That said, the UAE’s telecom providers did unblock Qatar-owned BeinSports this week, raising hopes that resolution is near.

Turkey’s help

When he visits Qatar today, Erdogan is expected to receive a warm welcome.

Turkey has supported Qatar over the past several weeks with food imports and by speeding up the deployment of Turkish troops to the country, as per a 2014 military agreement.

Ministry of Defense

Turkish troops arrive in Qatar

This will reportedly be Erdogan’s first face-to-face meeting with the Emir since the dispute began last month.

Thoughts?

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Drowning is a silent killer and can happen within seconds, especially in children.

This is why parents must watch their kids very closely when they are in the water, a Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) doctor has said.

The number of children who drown in Qatar is going up each year, the chairman of Qatar’s Kulluna Health and Safety campaign said this week.

Fatimah Ashraf Khan/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a statement, Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen added that 90 percent of drowning cases involve children under the age of 10 years old, and 70 percent of those cases are victims younger than four.

He added:

“Drowning incidents in Qatar occur mainly at home, in private swimming pools and bathtubs. There are also some incidents of drowning in the sea.

Almost all the drowning incidents in swimming pools in Qatar happen when the parent or caregiver is not present.”

He explained there are several myths about drowning, which include the belief that:

  • Children will follow instructions and stay away from water hazards;
  • Kids can safely be left unattended for short periods of time;
  • A lifejacket or flotation device will prevent drowning;
  • Adequate safety measures (such as a lifeguard) are already in place; and
  • Younger children can play safely in the care of older kids.

Safety tips

To help keep children safe, the doctor advised constant supervision, teaching children how to swim and setting/enforcing clear rules about what to do near water.

Learning to perform CPR is also recommended, and free courses are offered through Kulluna.

Elysia Windrum

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Finally, Saifeldeen recommended thinking beyond the obvious to reduce the risk of drowning.

According to Kulluna’s website, children in Qatar have drowned in swimming pools, baths, fish tanks, buckets, on building sites and in the sea.

“About 70 to 80 percent of drowning cases happen when the child is not supposed to be in the water,” Saifeldeen said.

For adults, the Ministry of Interior has previously advised not swimming alone; never replacing life jackets with plastic water rings as they are not designed to keep swimmers safe; and never using water rings of any type if the water is deep.

Thoughts?