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HH Sheika Moza and Cherie Blaire Open Shaffalah Center

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Sheikha Mozah opens Shafallah’s new facility

THE new premises of the Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs, the world’s biggest and best of its kind, was opened yesterday in West Bay area by HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad, wife of HH the Emir and founder of the institution.

HH Sheikha Mozah also opened the Shafallah Genetics Medical Centre on the occasion attended by a galaxy of dignitaries, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Booth and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s wife Maria.

"Amazing, state-of-the-art, and so full of love and compassion," was how Cherie described the ultra-modern facility, a private, non-profit institution, which could cater for up to 1,000 children in a phased manner.

The opening ceremony was held in the Middle East’s first full-dome digital Digistar theatre, an integral part of the Shafallah complex.

Welcoming the gathering, Shafallah chairman Hassan Ali bin Ali said that the opening marks a further step towards realising the vision and commitment of HH the Emir and HH Sheikha Mozah.

"This vision is for a Qatar that belongs to its people, in which all Qataris can take pride, and where every citizen has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential," he explained.

The momentum and programme to create the Centre has been driven by the remarkable and perceptive vision of HH Sheikha Mozah, also the chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF).

The chairman stressed that the aim was to create a world-class environment for "all our children with special needs and for their families who care for, and love them."

"In this secure and enlightened facility, all their needs will be met, and they can develop their potential in every aspect of life and thereby engage fully in the society," he said.

Welcoming the experts, who have come for the First Annual International Forum on Special Needs which began yesterday, Hassan Ali bin Ali maintained that Shafallah wishes to establish a global forum for institutes, medical centres, and schools in the field so that they can communicate and learn from each other.

Referring to the opening of the Shafallah Genetics Medical Centre, the chairman explained it would implement a programme of research into the medical conditions affecting children in Qatar and the region.

"The new centre would work closely with all our medical and educational institutions to achieve advances in our understanding of genetic disorders and to develop better care for those affected,î he said.

A short-film on Qatar and Shafallah Centre, which showcases the rapid development of the country, and the remarkable changes Shafallah is bringing about in children with special needs was screened at the opening ceremony.

A special musical piece, composed by Qatari musician Wael bin Ali and dedicated to HH Sheikha Mozah for her vision, efforts and perception for Shafallah, was also premiered at the event.

The film portrays the tremendous hope Shafallah and its staff has brought to the life of Khalifa al-Dousari, a special needs child, and his family, through scientific methods.

It also presents Qatarís vision for educational excellence with interviews from Qatar University president Dr Sheikha al-Misnad, and some young Qatari students.

QF vice chairperson Dr Saif al-Hajari, National Health Authority chairperson Sheikha Dr Ghalia bint Mohamed al-Thani, deputy chairperson and Shafallah openingís organising committee chairman Dr Sheikh Khalid bin Jabor al-Thani, Hamad Medical Corporation chairperson Dr Latifa al-Houty, and HH Sheikha Mozahís Office director Dr Abdullah al-Kubaisi were among those present.

Earlier, the opening ceremony had veteran TV presenter Tim Sebastian, currently the host of Doha Debates, giving the introduction.

Newsweek Internationalís regional editor (Middle East) Christopher Dickey was the anchor of the event. Newsweek is promoting Shafallah as part of a campaign.

Dr Sheikh Khalid al-Thani and Hassan Ali bin Ali had told a press conference a few days ago that the new Shafallah premises would set a benchmark for the rest of the world.

Shafallah, currently catering to nearly 200 children, would be able to accommodate the almost 300 on the waiting list, shortly after the opening of the new facility.

Shafallah evaluates each new child over a period of three weeks to a month, to ensure that the candidate is placed in the right class.

The centre follows a tailor-made curriculum and aims for the highest standards in teaching and rehabilitation of children with special needs.

The sprawling compound, spread over 400,000 sq mtr, is to house, in a phased manner, all institutions for special needs, including those under the Ministry of Education, presently functioning from various locations within Qatar.

For example, the Al Noor Institute for the Visually Impaired is to be shifted to a proposed purpose-built facility within the Shafallah complex.

The master plan includes a 150-bed hospital and a stadium, which are expected to be ready by 2008.

The most modern design concepts, which make the best use of light and ventilation, have been put into practice at the new facility of the Shafallah Centre.

Safety measures are a salient feature. All doors are fireproof for two hours as against the international standard of one hour, and all windows are fixed low in order to help easy exit for children in the event of an emergency.

The indoor swimming pool is fitted with a special platform that lowers children into the water to specified depths, ensuring full safety.

Asked about the total number of children with special needs in Qatar, the Shafallah chairman had stated earlier that comprehensive statistics were not available, as some families donít disclose the facts.

Shafallahís Digistar theatre is a revolutionary facility offering the highest resolution video projection in the world.

Digistar 3 Laser, the equipment installed in the theatre, produces stunningly realistic 3D visuals that envelopes viewers.

Coupled to the true, natural, three-dimensional sound emanating from the famed Iosono audio equipment that offers up to 36 tracks, the 208-seat theatre provides an unparalleled audio-visual experience.

The plan is to attract students and the general public to the Shafallah complex with screenings of art and scientific films and promote in tandem the centreís mission and create awareness about its cause.
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Can anyone get us some photos of this project?
I couldnt find any on the web
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