Cuddly Chinese Cubs Come to Qatar for Conservation, Cup
Two giant pandas arrive at Panda House at Al Khor Park in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 19, 2022. (Nikku/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Cuddly Chinese Cubs Come to Qatar for Conservation, Cup

Qatar welcomed the arrival on Wednesday of two heavyweight visitors – Jing Jing and Si Hai – giant pandas on loan for 15 years under the first panda cooperation program between China and a Middle Eastern country. Jing Jing, a 4-year-old male, was given the Arabic name Suhail, while Si Hai, a 3-year-old female, will be called Soraya. They were immediately transported from the airport to their new home in Panda House at Al Khor Park. According to China’s Xinhua news agency, Mohammed Al Khouri, director of the Public Parks Department of Qatar’s Municipality and Environment Ministry, said that in traditional Arab culture, Suhail and Soraya are two stars that embody auspiciousness, sublimeness, and invaluableness. Al Khouri said the pandas would help Qatar and China advance research on pandas’ ability to live in a desert climate. In May 2020, China and Qatar signed a cooperation agreement on research into the protection of endangered species and the promotion of biodiversity. But while there may be some scientific value in this Chinese-Qatari cooperation, it seems no coincidence that the pandas also arrived on time for football fans coming to the Gulf state next month for the World Cup 2022 to see them.

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