Many colours of South Africa
November 20 2016 11:12 PM
Ambassador of South Africa Saad Cachalia, (standing, second from right) with Douw Varmaak, Political Counsellor (Standing, right) with the judges from VCU-Q. Photo by Umer Nangiana.

The better you know South Africa, the more your chances of winning free travel and tour of the country renowned for its wide range of tourism destinations. The South African embassy in Qatar held a Children Art Competition with the theme ‘South Africa as I see it’ in September this year. More than 50 local and international schools in Qatar participated in the competition and submitted their artworks to the embassy. 
The artworks, done around the competition theme, are now being adjudged by expert art instructors from Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCU-Q) and the results will be announced on December 7 at the university auditorium. 
The top 20 entrants will receive medals and the winner will receive a floating trophy for his/her school, as well as two flight tickets to South Africa as well as accommodation in the country, announced ambassador of South Africa to Qatar Saad Cachalia at a press conference. “The whole idea of this competition is premised on a few things and the chief amongst them is the aim to strengthen the relationship between Qatar and South Africa. We believe that an art competition would allow Qataris’ exposure to South Africa and in return let South Africa open itself to Qataris,” said the ambassador. 
“Children at home are the ones who decide where to go on a holiday and influence the parents to go to a particular place. This art competition would allow the children to do some homework on South Africa and understand it better,” he added. 
The ambassador said such a competition would make children learn about the country that they did not know much about and they would share their information at the grassroots level. The theme of the competition, he added, would help the embassy better understand what these people think of South Africa and thus let it improve further on aspects of promoting tourism. 
“I believe it will open up Qatari visits to South Africa for tourism. Qatar is a great investor in art and we believe we can benefit from Qatar through this competition in exposing the tourism of South Africa or visits to the country,” said ambassador Cachalia. 
In the same way, he said, Qatar can benefit from up-and-coming and budding artists from South Africa. 
Douw Varmaak, Political Counsellor at South Africa embassy, explaining the art competition said it was the embassy’s outreach to the communities based in Qatar and its efforts to introduce the people and culture of South Africa to as many people as possible.
“The theme ‘South Africa as I see it’ would encourage students to research not only South Africa but the African continent and produce works of art reflecting their impressions of what a visitor to our country would experience,” said Varmaak.
He said the competition was open to children between the ages of 13 and 16. The embassy partnered with Etihad Airways and VCU-Q. The university, Varmaak said, helped and guided them with the modalities of the competition. 
“The ministry of education in Qatar fully supported the initiative and the number of participating schools went up to 54 from the initial 34 that we had identified and we have received over 400 submissions,” said the political counsellor of South Africa embassy.
“It has allowed the embassy to connect with the community in a very unique way. The children have really embraced us and we enjoyed visiting the schools,” said Varmaak. He hoped that the competition would grow from here. He said the embassy is considering to hold it regularly from now onwards.
He said from their interaction with the children at the schools they realised that such an event has never been done before at this scale. The competition was well received and would grow bigger in the coming years, hoped Varmaak.

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