All You Need To Know Before Visiting
Qatar is a country of great extremes. With an ultra modern sprawling city landscape, to barren desert terrain, this Arab nation is flourishing. A relatively small country in Western Asia on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar boasts great advances in an incredibly short time, given that it used to be one of the poorest countries in the region, not that long ago. I recently spent a few days here, and learnt some very interesting and amazing facts about Qatar that you need to know if you’re going to visit this latest tourist hotspot in the world.
List of Amazing Facts
- Qatar is the richest country in the world per capita income, thanks to its oil and gas resources, surpassing Singapore and Luxembourg.
- The capital, Doha, is the richest city in the world per capita income.
- Arabic and English are both widely spoken.
- The population of Qatar is 2.7 million (2019).
- About 90% of the population live in Doha.
- Less than 20% of the population are local Qataris – the rest are foreigners on working visas.
- Foreigners cannot become citizens of Qatar; even if they marry a Qatari, there is no guarantee.
- One of the most amazing things about Qatar is that there are more men than women. Females make up only 25% of the population. This is because most of the population is young men from overseas on working visas, building the city.
- Petrol is dirt cheap. Filling up your car is cheaper than a movie ticket or even a hamburger.
- There is almost zero chance of an earthquake happening here, making it one of the safest places on earth.
- Qatar has a low incidence of crime.
- Qatari food is influenced by Indian and Persian cuisines.
- Friday is like a Sunday, day of prayer, and shops are closed in the mornings.
- To be able to buy and drink alcohol, you must go through a lengthy application process for a permit, and is only for non-muslim expatriates.
- There is only one company that imports and sells alcohol in the country. It is a subsidiary of Qatar Airlines.
- The Qatar desert is a natural reserve listed on UNESCO.
- No forests or bushland exist in Qatar, as it’s the middle of the desert.
- Sandstorms and dust storms are frequent.
- There are no mountains or hills – the land is mainly flat.
- Families go camping in the desert on weekends (for fun!).
- You can go glamping in the desert, believe it or not, in 5 star desert luxury tents!? (a contradiction in terms, if ever there was one!)
- Most young Qatari boys are given a Falcon (the bird, not the car). Why? good question! It’s a right of passage; a traditional pet for males, dating from the Bedouins in the desert who used them to hunt. Falcons are very respected birds in Qatari culture. Cost to buy one, because I know you’re interested … is about A$4000 plus and you can pick one up from the huge selection at the Souq Waqif.
- A very popular sport is camel racing with, wait for it … remote controlled robot jockeys. Yes, you read that right! I had not heard of this before.
- The fabulous new luxury Pearl-Qatar precinct is built on artificial land, or reclaimed land, of almost 400 hectares, and 13 islands, known as the Arabian Riviera.
- The hot season is very long, from May to September, with a top temperature of 42 degrees celsius. Too hot for me! So I went in January when it is more pleasant.
- And finally, I was shocked to learn that Qatar is the most polluting country in the world. However, some of the air pollution comes from desert dust, so it is hard to gauge how harmful the pollution levels are. Suffice to say the quality of the air is not good.
DO’s and DONT’s when in Qatar
- Do not criticise the Emir, the monarch and ruler, or it could land you in prison.
- Do not show public displays of affection.
- Make sure you dress appropriately when in public, covering shoulders and knees, and no tight clothing.
- You don’t always shake hands with a Qatari person, so wait for him/her to initiate the greeting. Alternatively, a hand on the heart or a rub of your nose is used.
- Do not drink alcohol in public, other than in international hotels that are licensed to serve alcohol, and do not act drunk in public.
- Do not make rude gestures in public.
- Lastly, no pork products are allowed in the country.
And that’s a wrap.
What do you think of these amazing facts about Qatar? Let me know in the comments section below.
Bye for now.