The Heart of Qatar

15 Jul

With Disney and Bryan being in Qatar (and likely to stay there unless they find a better offer somewhere else) I thought it would be a good idea to know a bit about this place.  In this guest post are some of the pertinent information about Qatar, its politics and culture. 

map of Qatar

The independent state of Qatar was a former British protectorate that parlayed its oil and natural gas resources to make it one of the most developed countries in the Middle East. It currently has a per capita income higher than many of the countries inWestern Europe.

The common medium of language is Arabic, with English coming in as second owing to its British colonial past. The following are some of the guidelines for safety in the country:

  • Women may experience some form of harassment. So when going out, do go with others or remain in areas where there are many people; (note to DIS!)
  • Abayas are recommended. These are long black cloaks and headscarves worn by local women;

    women in abayas

  • Do expect haze, dust and sand storms during the day. Be always informed of weather conditions especially when traveling on the road;
  • Keep hydrated. Drink lots of bottled water and take the necessary precautions for the sun such as sunscreen and shades;
  • Respect the local customs. Do be aware of the clothes worn as revealing clothing may be subject to police action.

As can be seen, one of the burgeoning metropolises in the Gulf region is located right in Qatar. Capitalizing on its economic development, the country has just recently hosted the 2006 Asian Games and is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup. With such hospitality and development, making Qatar as one of your must see destinations should be made when jaunting through the Middle East.

While many of its neighboring countries are undergoing political turmoil, the country has remained stable despite the brewing crises of its neighbors. The government has remained firm in making the country further flourish and become the model of economic development in the region.

Its capital is Doha, where most of the business and economic activity in the country is centralized. There are other destinations in the country namely:

  •  Khor Al Udeid. This is an area of rolling dunes famed for offroad racing by both locals and tourists. A normal trip to the region would include the off-roading, a campfire and a traditional Arab meal;
  • Zubarah. This is the ruins of an old fort city built back in 1938. Also in the area is planned theQatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge allowing travel between Qatar and Bahrain;
  • Souq Waqif. This is the traditional ancient marketplace of Qatar. Now, it has many restaurants with many sellers allowing bargaining for traditional Qatari items;
  • The Pearl. This is the man-made island connected to Dohaby bridge where there are high end restaurants and shops for the populace;
  • The Villagio Mall. This Venetian-inspired shopping mall has a canal with gondolas. The mall boasts of many shops, from thrifty to high end for every buyer’s taste;
  • Museums. The most famed museums of the country are the Mathaf and the Museum of Islamic Art–Doha. The former showcases Arabic modern art while the latter provides a glimpse of traditional and ancient Arab pieces;
  • Katara. This is the cultural village housing many international and Arab restaurants, with a beautiful beach and host to many cultural events;

In order to enter the country, visas are required. There are exemptions to this requirement allowing for a thirty (30) day stay after payment of the visa fee.

Most Western European countries, some Asian cities, the US and GCC countries are exempt from the required visa. For others, one needs a guarantor or sponsor in Qatar to be granted a visa. The most common entry into the country is through Qatar Airways, and they can also provide hotel accommodations and visa assistance if needed .

For more information on travel to the Middle East, do check out the various Expatforum articles at our site or join the discussions at Expat Forum

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