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  National
Qatar Observes Independence Day in Seoul
Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi Invites Hundreds of VIPs
By James (Young-Ju) Huh
Staff Reporter
Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar and Mrs. Naomi Al-Midhadi

Qatar Ambassador to Seoul Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi and his wife Mrs. Naomi Al-midadi hosted a reception in celebration of its national day — Independence Day (Sept. 3, 1971) – at Hotel Shilla in Seoul on Sept. 5, 2005.

Held at Shilla's Emerald Room at 6:30 p.m. on the day, the standing reception drew hundreds of high-profile guests from nearly all sectors of society, business, political, academic, cultural, media circles as well as diplomatic community in Seoul.

Among the eminent politicians and South Korean government officials was Vice Minister Lee Won-Gul of the Ministry Of Commerce Industry and Energy. Lee gave a speech congratulatory address in front of unusually larger audience than normal diplomatic gatherings.

In the speech Lee emphasized reinforcing bilateral exchanges of the future and called for more active cooperation between South Korea and Qatar.

Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar (second from left) poses with his wife, Mrs. Naomi Al-Midhadi (left), Vice Minister Lee Won-Gul of the Ministry Of Commerce Industry and Energy, and other foreign envoys to Seoul.

Scores of foreign ambassadors stopped by to congratulate Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi for the most important day of Qatar. Among the top foreign envoys were Amb. Ahriz Abdelmoun'aam of Algeria, Amb. Tomas Smetanka of Czech Republic, Amb. Ahmed M. Tabuli of Libya, Amb. Radinck J. Van Vollenhoven of the Netherlands, Amb. Gleb A. Ivashentsov of Russia, Amb. Babiker Ali Khalifa of Sudan, Amb. Srefanus J. Schoeman of South Africa, and Amb. Hussein Rammal of Lebanon.

VIP guests from the business circles included Mr. Lee Sang-Jin, Emirates Airlines' area manager of Seoul, Mr. Yoo Nae-Hyong, president of the Delta Air Agencies in Seoul, and Mr. Bernhard Brender, general manager of Millennium Seoul Hilton.

Mr. Samuel Koo, president of Arirang TV, a local English-language channel, also showed himself and intermingled with other dignitaries.

In a welcoming address Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi thanked each and every guest for their support for the bilateral relations. He put emphasis on more and stronger cooperation between South Korean and Qatar.

Mr. Samuel Koo (left), president of Arirang TV, poses with Mr. Lee Sang-Jin (right), Emerates Airlines' area manager of Seoul, and a Japanese diplomat.

Overall relations have been improving since South Korea established diplomatic ties with Qatar on April 19, 1997. South Korean set up its embassy in Qatar in October 14, 1976. And Qatar Embassy in Seoul was opened in February in 1992.

Bilateral trade volumes have also been growing since the opening of the diplomatic ties. South Korean export items include cars, electronic goods, electricity, and textiles. South Korea's main import item is crude oil. Currently, 453 South Koreans are living in the Middle East nation.

Independence Day in Qatar has a special place in the hearts of all Qatari people, as it was a day all the Qatari people were freed from the rule of British colonialists on Sept. 3, 1971.

On the occasion of this propitious day, Qatar stops all kind of working activities for three days. On August 25, Qatari government begins to decorate all the buildings and the streets with lights and laser designs.

From left to right: Mrs. Naomi Al-midadi, Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar, and Vice Minister Lee Won-Gul of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy.

On September 1, people start celebrating by going out in the streets and dancing in a traditional way called AlArda. On the first day of the celebration, all Qatarians go to the Royal palace in Qatar to congratulate the Ameir.

At noon on the day, pompous military shows with majestic air force are staged by the government. Around 6 p.m. people pour out on the street, seeking best food in restaurants around the nation. On this Qatar's biggest holiday people rarely get out of country and they stay together as a big family to share the holiday spirit together.

Country profile: Qatar

The State of Qatar has developed from being one of the poorest Gulf states, with its income based primarily on pearl fishing, to become one of the richest, thanks to the exploitation of large oil and gas fields since the 1940s.

Today its people have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

Dominated by the Al Thani family for almost 150 years, the mainly barren country was a British protectorate until 1971, when it declared its independence after following suit with Bahrain and refusing to join the United Arab Emirates.

Overview

His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa of Qatar

In 1995 Crown Prince Hamad Bin Khalifa deposed his father to become emir, since when he has brought in several liberal reforms. Press freedoms have been extended and the Qatari satellite TV station Al Jazeera has become one of the most important broadcasters in the Middle East.

In 1999 the country's first elections - for a 29-member municipal council - were held in which women were allowed to vote and stand for office. Voting for a partially-elected legislative body is expected to take place in 2005.

The country's population is small, and foreigners outnumber native Qataris. Oil revenues have allowed the creation of an all-embracing welfare state, with many services being free or heavily subsidized.

Possessing more than 15% of the world's proven gas reserves, Qatar has ambitions to become a world energy giant.

Facts

Population: 628,000 (UN, 2005)
Capital: Doha
Area: 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq miles)
Major language: Arabic
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 76 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Riyal = 100 dirhams
Main exports: Oil, gas
GNI per capita: n/a
Internet domain: .qa
International dialling code: +974

Leaders

Emir: Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al Thani
In 1995 armed forces commander and Defence Minister Sheikh Hamad seized power from his father, Sheikh Khalifah Bin-Hamad Al Thani, who was out of the country.

The new emir survived an attempted coup in 1996.
Later that year, Sheikh Hamad tried to take his father to court for the return of state funds he believed his father had kept. However, the two men were reconciled at the end of 1996 and the financial dispute was settled out of court.

Since coming to power, Sheikh Hamad has continued in the roles of commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defence minister and has ensured Qatar's military development.


Photos of Qatar National Day Reception

Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar with Finish Amb. Kim Luotonen at Qatar National Day Reception held at Shilla Hotel.

From left to right: Mr. Lee Sang-Jin, Emirates Airlines' area manager of Seoul, an unidentified man, Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar, and Mr. Bernhard Brender general manager of Millennium Seoul Hilton

Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar posing with his staff

Amb. Gleb A. Ivashentsov (second from right) of Russia talking with other VIPs

Vice Minister Lee Won-Gul of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy speaks at Qatar National Day Reception held at Shilla.

Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar speaking

Mr. Lee Sang-Jin, Emirates Airlines' area manager of Seoul, poses with Mr. Yoo Nae-Hyong, president of Delta Air Agencies in Seoul, and an unidentified guest.

Mr. Samuel Koo, president of Arirang TV, at Qatar reception

Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi of Qatar and Mrs. Naomi Al-midadi greeting guests

Amb. Ahmed M. Tabuli (third from left) Libya, poses with other guests.

Amb. Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi Qatar poses with Mr. Lee Sang-Jin, Emirates Airlines' area manager of Seoul, and with others.

Amb. Ahriz Abdelmoun'aam of Algeria poses with other envoys.

Dutch Amb. Radinck J. Van Vollenhoven with others




Mr. James (Young-Ju) Huh, who serves as a staff reporter for The Seoul Times, studied management at the Ritumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan. He covers diplomatic area and other foreign communities in Seoul.

 

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