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Opinion
Oct 2, 2021

Qatari Food Festival: Good Time To Socialize

Arun Ranjit
World Cup 2022 image with the Lamb Machboos- a popular and favourite all-in-one dish.
World Cup 2022 image with the Lamb Machboos- a popular and favourite all-in-one dish.

COUNTDOWN: 417 Days to Go for World Cup 2022 in Qatar

On Your Mark……Get Set……..

Eight Stadiums in Qatar where the World Cup 2022 to be played.

It’s almost 3 PM on Saturday–October 1st, the premises of Chandragiri Hills Resorts where the Qatari Food Festival coinciding with the World Cup 2022 to be held in the State of Qatar Countdown was set.

The first World Cup 2022 ever to be held in the Arab world is scheduled to kick off in Qatar on November 21 at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor with a match that will feature the host country.

The final will be played at the Lusail Stadium in Doha on Sunday December 18. With this schedule it is exactly 417 Days (beginning October) to Go for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Not only the large numbers of Nepali people representing various walks-of-life but also the members of the diplomatic corps of Kathmandu and other handful of foreigners seemed excited at the Qatar Food Festival on Autumn’s lovely sunny day organized by the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Nepal.

All the guests were welcomed with serving Qatari Coffee or Qahwa and Karak Tea along with dates. Sipping the traditional coffee or tea or varieties of cold drinks, as choice, the invitee-guests at the festival were also cashing some opportunities to view the eye-pleasing sightseeing of majestic Himalayas to thick-trees covered forest areas, green-grass empty fields to unplanned construction structures of Kathmandu Valley from over 2,500 meters high from sea level terrace of the Chandragiri Hills Resorts.

After all, making refreshments eye-catching from nature beauty, the guests of both the sexes being involved in various professions of the society, seemed excited to taste the varieties of Qatari along with a mix of Mexican, Indian and Western foods being displayed.

Being located nearly 24 km away from the heart of downtown Chandragiri Hills is a great spot to get away from the bustling city life which was used as a trading spot hundreds of years before.

Tracing to history, King Prithivi Narayan Shah the Great caught the first glimpse of a much scenic and prosperous Kathmandu Valley and later unified all smaller states into one as today’s Nepal.

Hindu devotees believe that the all-powerful Bhaleshwor Mahadev fulfills the wishes of all who come to pay homage to him in Chandragiri Hill.

However, carefully picking the way through the crowd, this writer paused to whisper a hushed question in a friend and acquaintance’s ear. After a few minutes of searching he finds what he is looking for and with a new found companion in tow.

The easiest and most enjoyable way to enter a new culture is through its food. People can’t name the cabinet members of a given country, but they can instantly name its most famous dish and though we recognize some associations as stereotypes they allow us to identify with the people of that community more than any other aspect of culture.

Perhaps this is because everyone has certain strongly held associations about food which are remarkably similar throughout the world.

To truly get to know a country, seasoned tourists never forget to try that country’s traditional food and participate in some sort of traditional events or performances.

In this modern globalization world, food is easy to get. In this connection, this food festival has also offered the opportunity to taste the various food items from Qatar (Arabic).

Food is easy to get. Traditional performances are not easily accessible. Their timing and location have to be just right.

Thus for Nepalese and foreigners too who have not visited Qatar and do not know about Qatar tradition of food, culture, music arts this kind of food-event was a right time and right choice for the same to accumulate a firsthand experience of the Qatari spirit.

A traditional Arab cuisine- Machboos– consisting of rice, meat and vegetables is the national dish in Qatar. It is typically made with either lamb or chicken and is slow-cooked to give it a depth of flavour.

Many of these dishes are also used in other countries in the region because they share many commonalities. However, the dishes have different names or use slightly different ingredients according to the places among the region. But seafood and dates are staple food items.

The Qatari diet is quite varied, flavorful, and nutrition balanced. Qatari food is rooted in culture and geography and reflects many aspects of the country and its history which has long historical aspects.

The food served with moderate amounts of meat which tastes delicious with true service makes friendship and humanity feeling lead to flourishing and companionship from the bottom of heart at the people’s level.

Not only the Nepali guests from various walks-of-life but also the members of the diplomatic corps had applauded with their Thumbs Up for the delicatessen taste of the varieties of foods especially Qatari Food taken viewing the lush-green wilderness that gave full enjoyment.

No doubt, the tasteful Arabic food had won over the entire invitees’ hearts which would be said as an opportunity to confirm that future Nepal-Qatar cultural exchange can be a reality.

As this kind of food and culture certainly boost the understanding of each other’s culture and history by the people of Nepal and Qatar.

Today, the cosmopolitan country offers all kinds of international cuisine. The food culture of Qatar evolved over time strongly influenced by rice and spices from India and food from the Levant.

Qatari cuisine is a cornucopia of sumptuous morsels: from succulent Machboos to inviting appetizers, tasty fish dishes to phenomenal desserts, all of which will leave you hankering for more.

But besides the undoubted richness of its taste and texture, Qatari cuisine can also tell us a spell-binding story of the past, of caravans in the desert, of ships that sailed from the Malabar Coast to Qatar, of open markets where produce of the region was bartered and bargained over.

By tracing the lineage of the various dishes of Qatar, those interested foreigners are able to get a deeper understanding of how events shaped history.

Qatar is 90 percent desert. The lack of water and poor soil forced Qataris to adopt a nomadic lifestyle since the land could not provide much. Since time immemorial, Qataris have made the best of what nature had to offer trapping birds and small animals that roamed the desert, feasting on desert truffles and plants that could survive the harsh climate.

Machboos is the national dish of Qatar and many Qataris frequently eat it for lunch accompanied with lemon and laban [yogurt]. It consists of chicken or lamb meat over a bed of rice that has been flavoured with spices like cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and dried limes. It’s one of Qatar’s most popular dishes.

Balaleet is a sweet made from vermicelli cooked with cardamom powder, sugar and finished off with an omelet. It is a breakfast dish also frequently served during celebrations. There is more to taste…

Ambassador of the State of Qatar Yousuf Bin Mohammed Al-Hail

“As food and culture are integral parts of promoting peace and friendship among the people of the countries, this kind of food festival could be viewed as a harbinger of the future Nepal-Qatar cultural ties,” said the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Nepal Yousuf Bin Mohammed Ahmed Al Hail.

“The embassy hosted a world cup countdown food festival promotional campaign as part which is being organized worldwide as the World Cup 2022 date is nearing –just a year ahead,” informs the Qatari envoy.

Gulf Countries’ Envoys to Nepal: Ambassador of State of Qatar HE Yousuf Bin Mohammed Ahmed Al Hail (in Qatari national dress-white) along with the Ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates HE Saeed Al Naqbi (in middle) and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia HE Musaid bin Sulaiman M Al-Mawany (right) at the Qatari Food Festival organized at Chandragiri Hills Resorts in west part of capital on Saturday October 1, 2021.

To be quoted, the food festival has gained heavy weight as besides other ambassadors, the Envoys from the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Arab Republic of Egypt were also busy with smiling faces chatting with personalities.

It is to note that after over three years of severing all diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017 by UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt along with Bahrain restored breakthrough ties in late 2020.

Moreover, this could be the first open gathering of all the enemy turned friendly countries’ ambassadors after closeness of all the functions due to COVID-19 pandemic.

This kind of “real food products of Qatar” definitely prove to be truly meaningful and the first of its kind organized in Nepal has no doubt, definitely added one more step in further strengthening the decades old cultural and friendly ties among the people of Nepal and Qatar.

Thus, cross cultural activities should be broadened to identify admiration, study and nurture new trends of culture emerging from both nations’ changes in the 21st centuries.