By Mudassir Raja
It was a family gala at St. Regis Doha where Ivonne A Baki, Ambassador of Ecuador, recently arranged a New Years’ party for the small Ecuadorian community in Qatar. She had also invited the ambassadors of other countries with their families to the gathering.
It was a fun and socialising evening where people of different backgrounds converged and had a chance to share their experiences of life and work in Qatar.
The underlying aim of the gathering was primarily to unite the small Ecuadorian community in Qatar at one place. The event was attended by nearly 70 Ecuadorian families residing in Qatar. The ambassadors of UK, Canada, and Belgium were also present with their families on the occasion and celebrated with the gathering in a leisurely fashion. The organisers served guests a splendid dinner of Ecuadorian food. There were some special activities for children.
Speaking on the occasion, the ambassador expressed her gratitude to the guests and assured that such gatherings should be done more frequently during her stay in Qatar. She encouraged her community to be in constant interaction with each other and to register themselves at the embassy to enjoy the consular services.
Talking to Community, the ambassador said: “The idea of the gathering is to start the year 2019 with a celebration for Ecuadorian community here. There are not many in number but they are wonderful people. It was a good idea to invite every one of them and also some of the ambassadors to celebrate. We have to celebrate every day. We have to celebrate when we wake up in the morning that we are alive. The idea is to do it with families and children. For me if children are smiling and happy, everything is okay.”
When asked about her new year resolutions, she said: “Mostly to be happier. I think it is important to live the moment. I realise that we cannot do it without the families around. I am happy that a lot of families came with children. My resolution is to live with my family. I always give them time and of course, it is quality time. For the political part, I always pursue peace. Still my dream is to have peace in the Middle East sometime.”
Regarding relations with Qatar, she said: “The bilateral relations are very good. Our president recently came to Qatar for Doha Forum. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani also visited Ecuador a few months ago. Both countries are more of friends together. There is ever increasing trust between the two countries. That helps a lot to open up to have the connections, not only the commercial but also the human connection.”
Stefanie McCollum, Ambassador of Canada to Qatar, said: “I am very honoured to be present here with such a nice community. The ambassador of Ecuador told me that it was a fairly new community that has been growing for the last few years. You can see very nice synergy. People feel very much at home. The ambassador has a way of making everybody feel welcomed. Everyone feels included. I think it is fantastic that everyone can get together and celebrate the New Year this way.”
When asked as an individual what new resolutions she had, the ambassador said, “[Laughing] personally I do not have any. I stopped doing them long ago because I was disappointed with myself for never respecting them. But, I am looking forward to a very exciting year here. Doha is an amazing place. As a mother I am happy. There are many good schools. There are good cultural and sports activities. There is always something to do. It is a very multi-cultural home for so many people. It feels nice.”
Bart De Groof, Ambassador of Belgium, said: “It is really a family gathering. It feels that the Ecuadorian community is one big family here. I think their ambassador has brought the community into a tight knit. She is a very famous person here in Doha. I am excited and happy to be here. I am in Qatar with my family. We have always felt at ease here. I think it is a very easy country to live in. It is an international country. The Qataris are very friendly.”
About his New Year resolutions, he said: “They say the best resolution is not to have the resolutions because at least you will not be disappointed. But as always, we will try to live healthily.”
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