“Travelling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller,” said Ibn Battuta, a famous Muslim traveller of medieval times.
The case of a noted young Qatar traveller Ali bin Towar al-Kuwari is no different. He is a keen traveller, travel writer and television presenter. Qatar National Library (QNL) recently hosted a travel adventure lecture with Ali, who shared his amazing experiences and lessons with the audience at the auditorium of QNL.
The well-attended event was a forum for the host of the popular Arabic travel series, Khota El Rahala, to present interesting aspects of his global explorations and experiences. Al-Kuwari shared his adventures in countries, including Brazil and China and his compelling personal observations about the diverse cultures and people he has encountered in the style of story-telling.
In his over an hour-long talk, the traveller mostly spoke about his adventures in American continent, particularly South America, and in Antarctica. Throughout his talk, Ali stressed the significance of travelling and from his experience how diverse the world is and how beautiful diversity is.
His talk was so engaging that a gathering of diverse people remained unmoved for almost all the time listening to his experiences and later his answers to different questions.
He talked about his travel through Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and the diversity he saw. “There is a lot of diversity out there. There is diversity of colour and there is diversity of language.
Talking about these countries, he spoke about his different experiences. He shared the stories of how simple people live and still how content they are. “During my travel, I met a lot of different people. One woman, working at a tea stall, was not ready to accept extra money from me. She thought the extra money would make her idle.”
Ali also shared the fact that the Arab names are very common in South American countries despite the fact these countries are not Muslim countries. “I found many names similar to the names we have in the Arab world. For example, the name Saeeda is very common in Cuba.”
He found people in many South American countries to be very content despite modest earnings. “I met a woman who told me that she earns $13. When I asked the money is for one day work, she said no. When I asked the money is for one week, she said no. She said that she gets the money as her monthly salary. She was content. When I asked how she is happy with such a meagre earning, she said that she did not need much. She said she had everything — house, food, and clothes. From her story, I came to realise that money is not everything. It is a means and not the end.”
Explaining certain distinguished features of each South American country, Ali said: “Ecuador is the jewel of South America. Bolivia is known for its deserts and Amazon River. Brazil is called the melting pot of South America. You will see very beautiful kids in Brazil.”
The traveller became particularly excited when he spoke about his travel to and the hurdles he faced during his voyage to Antarctica. “It was very fascinating to be out there. It was so beautiful that I did not take photos. No photo can explain the feelings I had when I was in Antarctica.”
At the end of his talk, the audience asked him multiple questions and in response he further shared his experiences. About the question of different war zones in the world, he said: “These are man-made problems and sufferings. The natural diversity of humankind is very beautiful. Imagine, if God had made all the world similar, it would not have been so beautiful. We should travel to appreciate the diversity and the beauty.”
Responding to a query about how many countries he had so far travelled, Ali said that he has been to 73 countries. “I will continue my travel and soon set out for my next expedition.”
About a question on globalisaiton, he said: “Globalisation is a part and parcel of our lives. It has actually made travelling easier. The new technologies are also very helpful for travelling.”
When asked what has so far been his biggest challenge, he said: “I faced the biggest challenge when I was imprisoned in Mexico and Columbia for certain travel-related issues. However, every challenge has made my love for travelling stronger.”
In the end, he appreciated QNL for regularly hosting events to recognise Qatar’s outstanding youth and individuals and to offer a platform for educating the wider community.
Al-Kuwari said: “Qatar National Library took our research to a different level by giving us access to its rich learning material. We used the library’s resources for a research about China for one of our programmes, which has thirty episodes, and covers a variety of topics. We relied on the library, and its staff members to guide us through its physical and online collections.
“The resources available at QNL’s collections are organised in a unique way and it is very easy to find the books you want to use. The atmosphere here is great, and I often come here to read books.”
Mohammed Zaidan, an enthusiast who attended the event, said: “The lecture was very interesting, and I learned a lot today. Travel is one of the most useful ways for people to learn about world cultures and expand their horizons.”
“Those who do not get the opportunity to travel the world can read about other countries, and the library is an ideal place to do so. It offers some of the best travel books,” he concluded.
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