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Friday, March 30, 2007

Further education in Qatar

For an updated version of this post see the Further Education in Qatar section of our website.

(Also see Qatar schools.)

Further Education in Qatar has been developing rapidly in recent years, and foreign students are often welcome. Qatar University is the oldest institution, having been established in 1973 with 150 initial students. Since that time it has expanded greatly: in 2002 there 8,621 students, the majority of whom were women.

In addition, Qatar has invited a number of western institutions to set up highly specialized campus branches in Qatar, a number of which are based in Doha’s 2,500-acre Education City. Standards in many of these institutions are high, with often only a small number of places available and high entry requirements. Many of these newer universities are currently extending their activities to research.

Carnegie Mellon University
Website: www.qatar.cmu.edu

Carnegie Mellon, the Pennsylvanian based university, offers degrees in computer sciences and business. Students of any nationality can apply.

Contact details
Tel: +974 492 8260 Fax: +974 492 8255
Email: Admissions: ug-admission@qatar.cmu.edu
Recruitment: qatar-resume@qatar.cmu.edu
Address: c/o Qatar Foundation
P.O. Box 24866, Doha, Qatar

Calgary University: Faculty of Nursing in Qatar
Website: www.ucalgary-qatar.ca

Qatar's newest institute (opening at the start of May 2007), this Canadian University provides nursing education and research in collaboration with Hamed Medical Corporation.


CHN Institute
Website: www.chninstitute.com
Location: CHN University Campus

CHN institute is affiliated with CHN university in Holland and Qatar (see below). It provides language courses for individual students, and tailor made courses, research and consulting to corporate clients.

Contact details:
Tel: +974 4878288
Fax: +974 4871764
Email: admin@chninstitute.com

CHN university
Website: www.chn.nl/qatar
Location: Al-Jeleait Street, Bin Omran

You can’t miss this Dutch administered university – it’s located in a fort-like building at the back of Hamad Hospital and the Athletes Village. CHN university offers both degrees and MA’s in tourism and hospitality.

Contact details:
Phone +974 – 4888116/ 4888126
Fax +974 4888136
Email: chnsecretary@qatar.net.qa
Address: P.O. Box 36037, Doha, Qatar

College of the North Atlantic, Qatar
Website: www.cna-qatar.com

CNA,Q is a Canadian run technical college administered by the College of the North Atlantic, Canada. Programs include business studies, engineering technology and information technology. Part time courses are also available.

Main campus:
Location: 68 Al Tarafa, Duhail North, (Next to Qatar University)

Contact details
Telephone No. +974 4952222
Fax No. +974 4952200
Email: info@cna-qatar.edu.qa
Address: P. O. Box 24449, Doha, Qatar Doha, Qatar


Rayyan Campus:
Location: Al Forousiya Road
Opposite Horse Race Track

Contact details:
Telephone No. +974 4825555
Fax No. +974 4825500
Email: info@cna-qatar.edu.qa
Address: P. O. Box 24449, Doha, Qatar


Georgetown University
Website: www3.georgetown.edu/sfs/qatar
Location: Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) Building - Education City

George Town university offers a four year bachelor of Sciences degree in foreign services. While all suitable students will be considered, George Town anticipates that the majority of students will be recruited from English language international schools in the region.

Contact details (admissions):
Phone: +974 492 7652
Fax: +974 482 6868
Email: SFSQadmissions@georgetown.edu
Address: P.O. Box 23689, Doha, Qatar

Qatar Aeronautical College
Website: www.qac.edu.qa/
Location: Ras Abu Aboud

Qatar Aeronautical College offers courses in Air Traffic Control, Engineering, Pilot Training and English Language.

Contact details:
Phone: +974 4408888
Fax: +974 4357034
Email: qacadmn@qatar.net.qa
Address: P O Box 4050, Doha, Qatar

Qatar University
Website: www.qu.edu.qa
Location: In West Bay area, close to the Golf Club.

Qatar University offers a foundation course and programs in engineering, education, law, sharia, Business and Economics and Arts and Sciences. Of particular to interest to expatriates might be Arabic for non-native speakers, offering a years program consisting of three four-month semesters. Its Sharia college is moderate; its former dean has spoken out against the use of the veil, and argued that Muslims should be allowed to join in festivities at Christmas, while its current dean is a women.

Contact:

- Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs
Phone: +974 485-6633
Fax: +974 485-1704
E-mail: stdaffairs@qu.edu.qa

- External Relations Office
Phone: +974 485-2331
Fax: +974 483-7742
E-mail: ccer@qu.edu.qa

Alternatively, email admin@qu.edu.qa.

University Address: PO Box 2713

For admissions see the individual colleges on Qatar Universities website..

Texas A&M University at Qatar
Website: www.qatar.tamu.edu
Location: Education City

Texas A&M university currently has approximately 200 students and around 48 members of staff – pretty small compared to the 45,00 students it has enrolled in its home country! In Qatar the university focuses on engineering programs, offering degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical and petroleum engineering. Admission is open to international students, and competition for places is highly competitive.

Contact details:
Phone: +974 492 7369
Fax: +974 492 7177
Email: info@qatar.tamu.edu
Address:
PO Box 23874, Doha, Qatar

Admissions:
Phone: +974 492 7377
email: admission@qatar.tamu.edu

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar
Website: www.qatar.vcu.edu
Location: Qatar Foundation

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, a branch university of VCU School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia, offers a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design, fashion design or interior design. Admission is open to non-Qatari students.

Contact details
Phone: +974 492 7200/ 492 7328
Email: vcuqadmissions@qatar.vcu.edu

Weill Cornell Medical College
Website: www.qatar-med.cornell.edu
Location: Education City

Weill Cornell Medical College is administered by the American Cornell College. In Qatar it offers a 6 year medical program consisting of a 2-year pre-medical program followed by a four year medical program, culminating in a Cornell Md degree. Up to 60 students are admitted, and while priority will be given to Qatari students who meet the strict admission criteria other nationalities will also be considered.

Contact details:
Tel: +974 492 8000
Fax: +974 492 8444
Email: admissons@qatar-med.cornell.edu

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ambitious plans for Doha

Grand Hamad street is to be closed to traffic and converted into the Grand Hamad Corridor, according to a Gulf Times article today. The corridor will include a tent covered galleria which will become the longest galleria in the world. The corridor will be designed by Pacific Consultants International, who have also proposed a 400 hectare forest area with lakes, gardens, a 100 meter hill and a motorized gondola with observation decks. The proposals are all part of the Urban Planning and Development Authorities Qatar National Master Plan.

Also see: Doha City Guide

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spices

A huge range of spices are available in Doha's Souq Waqif.

Colourful spices laid out in Souq WaqifAlso see: Qatar Image Library

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Doha zoo

Drive up Salwa road to the large roundabout by the Industrialgiraffe in Doha zoo area (it’s called fort roundabout, but the fort has disappeared), turn right onto Al Furousiya Street, follow the road along and you’ll find Doha Zoo to your left. (Be careful of the enormous pothole by the entrance.) According to the zoo’s brochure it has over 800 specimens, but as the brochure looks like it was made in the 1970’s, we can’t guarantee the accuracy of that.

Still, the zoo, while not matching the quality of large Western equivalents, makes for a pleasant day out. Many of the animals have large enclosures; the gazelles, deer and antelope looking the happiest while the big cats seemed bored in their cages. There are some native Qatari species, including ostriches and Oryx. Information about the animals is provided in Landscaping in Doha zooEnglish, although rather spasmodically.

There’s no indoor section for the creepy crawlies you’d expect in Europe, but the landscaping, pools and flowers are very welcome in this dry country. The water and greenery attracted so many birds that the bird song was almost deafening! Our children also appreciated the play area.

Being Qatar, there is no reason to use your legs in the zoo, a train (pulled by a tractor) is available to take you on a tour of the zoo. The trip starts and ends at the gates, staggering distance from the waiting land cruiser.

Opening hours:
Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m – 6.30 p.m.
Tuesdays – women only
Wednesday - families
Fridays – 1.20 6.30

Also see: Doha Guide

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Doha Cultural Festival Schedule


Information has been hard to come by, but there's finally a schedule for the Doha Cultural Festival. The schedule is on the Doha festival website, or can be accessed directly here. Enjoy!

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Losail Racing Track

Walkway to stadium at Losail Racing Track, Qatar.

Losail racing track, QatarAlso see: Qatar Image Library

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Doha Cultural Festival

There's a lot on over the next two weeks or so, with the Doha Cultural festival taking place, but as usual information seems hard to come by. The Gulf Times has a schedule out in today's issue, and you should also be able to get information from The National Council for Culture Arts and Heritage, although I am currently having problems loading it.

The Heritage Village will, of course, be opened, and a cultural cafe at the Ritz Carlton. Traditional dancing and a falconry and horse display will be held at the grounds near Merkhiya roundabout tomorrow at 4.00 pm, followed by "Desert tunes on the Rabbah,' which will then be held daily until 4th March. On Sunday 24th a photography exhibition will open at the Ritz Carlton, and will remain open until the end of the festival, and the fiction film festival will feature three films daily at the Mall Cinema. Other events include poetry, lectures, plays and tonight's laser display over the bay - starting at 6pm and visible from the Corniche.

Also see: Doha Guide

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Barzan Towers

Barzan TowerThe Barzan Towers were built at the start of the 20th century by Sheik Mohammed Bin Jassim Al Thani, at a time when the Ottomans were still sulking in Al Koot fort.

Barzan means high place, and it was said that pearl divers could see the towers when they returned from their pearl trips. They were essentially watch towers, probably built to protect an area where rain water collected - greenery, a well and a brook can still be seen in Um Slal Mohammed today.

The towers have been renovated (read completely rebuilt), and features such as modern air-conditioners do not add to the authenticity of the experience (although they may make it a lot more bearable in the summer months! However, the towers, with their thick stone walls, still makeAt the Barzan Towers an interesting trip.

The towers also afford a good view of the surrounding area. You can see from the walls the extreme gaps in wealth that exist in Qatar. On one side of the towers huge modern and rather tasteless houses stand, on the other makeshift shacks exist. We watched one man walk a mile from these shacks to collect water from a tap.

The Barzan towers are located on the outskirts of Umm Slal Mohammed and are (just) visible from the main road. You can read more about the towers on the Heritage of Qatar website.

Also see: Things to See and Do in Qatar

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nurseries in Qatar

Also see: Qatar Schools Studying Languages in Qatar Qatar Resident's Guide

While nurseries in Qatar offer good value for money compared to countries like the UK and the US, there is often competition for places. Things seem to get worse as the year progresses, with more places available at the start of the year.

Below we’ve provided a list of nurseries in Qatar. Obviously it’s not a complete list; if there are other nurseries you think we should include please email us the details or leave them on a comment.

Busy Bees
Ages: 1-4
Tel: +974 468 0971/ +974 5827598
Location: Villa 4, JBK Compound on Salwa Road near Midmac Roundabout
Postal Address: PO Box 19875, Doha, Qatar
Email: busybees@qatar.net.qa

Elder Tree Nursery
Ages: 2 months – 3 ½ years
Location: Al-Nuáijah, Belal Bin Rabah St., Building 8 (opposite Ahli football club)
Gate number 1 Tel: +974 4551020 Email: eldertreenursery@qatar.net.qa
Postal Address: PO Box 3857 Doha Qatar
Website: www.eldertreenursery.net.com
Email: eldertree@qatar.net.qa

First step nursery
Ages: 3 months – three and a half (but occasionally take older children)
Location: Off Al Khana street (near Euro clinic) and close to Toy R’ Us on Suhaim Bin Hamad Street.
Phone: +974 437-5862

Sunbeam Kindergarten
Ages: for children up to five years old
Address: PO Box 19612, Doha, Qatar
Tel: +974 444 0108
Fax: (+974 444 0108)
Mobile: (+974) 585 9308
Location: Al Baayen Gardens Compound near Al Sadd Sports Stadium
Postal Address: P.O. Box 19612, Doha, Qatar
Email: sunbeams@qatar.net.qa

Tots Corner Nursery
Ages: 1-4 years
Tel: +974 468 8008
Fax: +974 468 8700
Location: 56 Al Madeed, AL Joudi Street, Al Mamoura Area
Postal Address: PO Box 3971, Doha, Qatar
Email: totscorner@qatar.net.qa

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Mall

This was Qatar’s first shopping centre, which is perhaps why its owners felt so little need to invest any imagination into its name. The Mall is located on D ring road, next to Lulu hypermarket. Q-mart is the food store here, a small supermarket which sells nothing you can’t get elsewhere.

There are a few interesting stores in The Mall. Makki gallery has some nice-looking jewellery, not that there’s any shortage of jewellery stores in Qatar, and Badran Carpets has some beautifully designed Iranian rugs. There are many of the usual suspects here such as the Body Shop, although mercifully no Starbucks. There’s also a Boss clothes shop, a Highland store and a Tony and Guy clothing store. Stalls are crammed along the middle of the walkways: perhaps the most interesting was a Lebanese art store selling, amongst other items, handmade Lebanese jewelry and miniature water pipes. There’s also an interesting display in the middle of the mall selling wooden carved and painted furniture. Climb up the stairs and you’ll find a rather grim food court to your right containing a Mc Donalds and an Orient Express. Luckily there’s better eating downstairs – Cioconat Lounge has futuristic decor and, as its name suggests, an emphasis on chocolate. Opera cafe has an upstairs and downstairs seating area and a large, varied and reasonably priced menu. We were particularly impressed at its American breakfast: eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes, bacon and home made hash browns for 15 riyals.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the Mall. However, compared to the large and modern malls now available elsewhere such as Hyatt Plaza, City Centre and especially Villagio, it feels small, old-fashioned and out of date. We might go back – but only for that American breakfast!

Also see: Qatar Shopping

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Apples available in Virgin Megastore

Apple computers and ipods are now easily available in Qatar. Virgin Megastore, which has recently opened in Villagio, is selling a whole range of Apple products, including mini-macs. In addition to computer equipment and, of course, music, there is a range of books which puts every other book store in Qatar to shame and finally provides relief to the frustrated book lovers in Qatar.

Virgin written in ArabicVirgin Megastore's contact details:
Tel: +974 4135823/4135824
Address: PO BOX 55417, Doha, Qatar
Email: vgn.vil.qa@azadea.com

Update: presumably as a result of this, Carrefour are now also selling Apples.

Also see: Qatar Shopping

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Sail the Gulf


The 15th Qatar International Regatta (sail the Gulf) will be held at the Doha Sailing Club from the 25th to the 31st March. Classes will include Optimists, Lasers and 470s. For more information see the Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation website.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Falcons

Go to the bird souq in the live animal market and you'll see some small birds for sale for as little as 300 riyals . However, visit the falcon shops in Souk Waqif, and you will specimens of a completely different ilk. While not the most expensive (you will see these on Qatar Air, often with their own first class seat) the best birds birds will retail for thousands rather than hundreds of US dollars.

A falcon, hood removed, flaps its wings furiously
This shop, while not the biggest, was the friendliest of the ones we visited, even letting tourists hold birds. They were also willing to chat about the falcons, and tell us about where they came from and what they hunted.

A falconry shop in Souq Waqif
While most visitors and expats won't want to buy a falcon, other souvenirs may interest you. At the falcon shops, you can buy small and ornate falcon hoods, pictures, the colourful leashes used to tether the falcons and the catapults used to train the birds.

Also see: Qatar Shopping

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Environmental Rally

An environmental rally will take place today on the Corniche. The rally will start at 3pm at the Sheraton Park and will end at Rumeila Park. All are welcome. See this Gulf Times article for more information.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Iranian food

Shatter Abbas is a chain of Iranian restaurants in Doha.

Iranian food in Doha

They have a number of outlets in Doha but the photos of these ones were taken in Al Sadd, near the Istanbul Restaurant. Typically for Qatar, almost all of their menu seems to be based upon some variation of kebab with few (non-salad) vegetable dishes available. Both the bread and the houmous, as usual, is superb.

meat
We chose to have their mixed grill, for four people. A range of meats, fragrant rices, mixed appetisers, salad, traditional bread and drinks set us back 170 riyals.

Fragrant ricesAs normal in Doha, there was far too much food and we had no chance of finishing it. Try starving yourself for a day before visiting this restaurant! Overall the food, although very meat based, was excellent.

Also see:

Qatar Food

Read more about Iranian food

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Umm Slal Mohammed: forts and streams

In addition to its more famous Barzan Towers Umm Slal Mohammed forts Umm Slal Mohammed has two older forts – though given their size fortified houses might be a better name for them. They are located closer to the centre of town then the Barzan Towers, one by the mosque and the other opposite within a larger complex of houses.

Neither of them allow visitors to enter; the first is falling apart while the second appears, from the satellite dishes that sprout from it, to appear to be still in use.

The area around these forts is fascinating. On Tiny stream in Umm Slal Mohammad one side there is a plantation of dead palm trees,which looks like something out of a war-zone. Climb down into them, and you’ll still see the way the earth has been built up around them to trap any available water. And water was (and is) available – a massive well (be careful if you are with children – it's not fenced off) is present, with murky water at the bottom and an ancient Hudderfield pump still present at the top.

Directly behind one of the forts is one of the greenest areas I have seen in Qatar. Not only does it have grass, there’s a tiny little brook flowing through it, and it' s truly refreshing to hear the sound of running water in dry Qatar! With this unusual water and greenery, there are also a lot of birds and bird song to be heard.

Read about things to see and do in Qatar

Listen to the sound of the brook.


The Barzan Towers

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Fifth Doha Cultural Festival

The fifth Doha Cultural festival, organised by the National Council for Art, Culture and Heritage (NCACH), will be held from March 21st to April 5th. The festival will include musical shows, exhibitions, fashion shows, poetry and more. It will also feature the hit musical show Mama Mia. For more information see this Gulf Times article.

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Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic

Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic by Jack Smart and Frances Altorfer
220pp
ISBN 0-340-72125-1
Publ. Hodder and Stoughton

Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic covers language needed to function in an Arab country, and is organizedby functional topics such as directions, asking the time and official procedures. Language is taught through phrases rather than through a grammatical approach, although there are grammar notes. There is also a section in each unit on Arabic writing.

Each unit contains dialogues, which can be listened to on an accompanying tape, and a word list. At the end of each unit there are exercises to help you review what you have learnt. Cultural tips add interest to the book.

The approach is incremental: knowledge of previous units are assumed in each new unit, with extensive use of pre-taught vocabulary. While this helps a learner to retain vocabulary and phrases, and gives a thorough knowledge of each area, it also means that the learner can not jump ahead to a different function. In addition, as each topic is covered in some depth, you will gain mastery in one area while not knowing very basic phrases in other areas.

This book functions well as a course book, and is suitable for determined students who are serious about learning Gulf Arabic. It would also be suitable for people looking for supplemental material to an Arabic course. Also see:




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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Moto GP World Championships

Moto Grand Prix
The first leg of the Moto Gp World Championships took place in Qatar today. The race was a close run thing, with Valentino Rosso starting on pole position, having lapped fastest in qualifying. However, he was overtaken on the straight in front of the stadium of the first lap by Stoner (who rides for the Ducati Marlboro Team, not Rizla). Stoner obviously had the faster bike, able to outpace Valentino on the straights, with Valentino catching up and occasionally overtake on the corners. The faster bike won out, though, with Stoner coming first and Valentino second.



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Birds

Watch a long line of birds flying over Doha's Corniche on YouTube.

birds

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Blogging in Sheraton Park

As I write this I am sitting in Sheraton Park, a public park located next to Doha's iconic Sheraton hotel. Sheraton Park is the first of what will eventually be three i-parks. (Al-RumailahSheraton park on a Friday afternoon Park and Dahl-Alhamam Park will also be wired up.)

There is no charge for the connection, nor is there any need to register or use a Q-tel password. Despite this, I only noticed one other laptop user. The park, as usual, was dominated by families relaxing on their day off.

I initially had trouble connecting to the internet using my wireless connection and Firefox, but had more success with Microsoft Internet Explorer. After I connected, my browser took me to the Sheraton Park home page.

Signal strength started varied from weak to medium when I opened the connection. However, when I moved into the centre of the park the connection became strong. According to Internet Frog my connection, currently running at 647 kbps, is substantially faster than my home ADSL connection, which should run at 500 kbps but can run as slow as 40. (Just for comparison, British Telecom's standard broadband connection is now 8 Mbps - 16 times faster than Q-tel).

Never-the-less, the internet is still crawling – I'm writing this on word as I haven’t yet managed to log on to blogger, so my idea of blogging about blogging in Sheraton Park while in Sheraton Park may not work.

Still, Qtel’s internet service swings like a pendelum in terms of speed and at other times it may prove a real pleasure to saunter down in the pleasant spring weather and surf the internet (for free) for an hour or two on the pleasant green grasses of Sheraton Park.

Also See: Doha Guide

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Finding out what’s on in Qatar

Information always seem hard to get at in Qatar. Websites are rarely updated, phones go unanswered, ad when you do get and answer the person answering sometimes knows less than you. (Normally the panicking recipient of your call gives you another phone number which then goes unanswered.)

This lack of information extends to what's on. We try to mention major events on our blog, but we don't get everything. Luckily, there are a few good sources of information. So, if you want to keep up with what's going on, try those below.

Qatar Happening – small What’s On guide published monthly that lists events happening in Qatar that month. You can normally get hold of it at Mega Mart, Landmark, and at Qatar Distribution Centre (the alcohol shop!) They should shortly have a website (www.qatarhappening.com) although at the time of writing it’s not yet up and running.

Marhaba – more of a book than a magazine, it combines the features of a travel guide, magazine and what’s on guide. Updated copies are published every few months, which you can usually buy at the big supermarkets, the bookshops and at the Qatar Distribution Company.

Qatarliving – not specifically a what’s on guide, but a mine of local expat knowledge. If you want to know something specific, ask a question and you’ll probably get a flood of answers. They have recently added an events page which should be extra helpful.

Experience Qatar – official Qatar tourism website. Lists events in Qatar, although normally after they have happened. I’ve yet to work out the difference between coming and future events.

The local newspapers – sometimes contains adverts for upcoming events. There are three English language newspapers: The Gulf Times, The Peninsula and The Qatar Tribune.

You might also want to check out the following websites for specific details: Qatar racing and Equestrian club

Doha Golf Club – check out their calendar for tournaments

The Qatar Motor Grand prix

Qatar motor and motorcycle federation

What’s on when – not that great for Qatar, but some events are listed

Doha Sailing association

Qatar Olympic Committee

Also see: What to do in Qatar and our Doha Guide

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Desert greenery

After the wettest winter for nearly fifty years, the Qatar desert is unusually green. Indeed, a Bedouin friend told me that there he does not currently have to any provide fodder for his camels, as there is now sufficient grazing for them to survive on.

Desert greenery
The green is especially concentrated in dips. We also spotted many examples of wild oats, such as those photographed below.

Wild oats
Also see: Qatar Image Library

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Qatar Show Jumping

The six day Qatar International Show Jumping event starts today at Equestrian and Racing Club in Al Rayyan. The event will see 250 participants competing. Entrance is free and the event will be open until 9.00 or 10.00 pm. For more information ring 480-6011 or see the Qatar National Olympic Committee website.


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Centrepoint


Centre point, also called Al Smakh mall, is another relatively recent though small addition to Doha’s ever growing shopping scene. As a family with young children, we appreciate the Baby Shop here, which has children toys for all ages, playhouses, cots, children’s beds and so on. Close by you'll find Splash, with very reasonably priced clothes, and Shoe Mart.

There’s some fast food places, but nothing like the range the big malls have. There’s also a few shops selling things for the house: clocks, fake flowers, miniature waterfalls, candles and so on. The best of these is Home Centre, which has a large range of furniture and takes up a large portion of the top floor.

Opposite Home Centre is a small children's play area, which actually looks quite good. You can also buy sunglasses, and there’s a small electronics shops selling big brand names. Frankly, though, with no supermarket and a small range of shops, there’s better places to spend your money.

Book flights,hotels or cars with Expedia.


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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Singing Sand Dunes

This weekend, we visited the singing sand dunes, one of approximately 30 sites in the worldSand dunes form a semi-circle where sound is produced from sand dunes naturally. The dunes themselves curve round in a semi circle, forming a natural desert amphitheatre.

They didn’t sing. Again. (This was our second trip). The first time their failure was blamed on recent rain, so we waited until a few weeks had gone by without rain, but to no effect.

Friends who have been previously have sworn blind that there was something to be heard. We tried to set the sound off by running, jumping and rolling down the dunes, but to no avail. Several times we thought we hear a low droning sound, only to look up and see aircraft.

The closest we came to success was not at the designated dunes, but several kilometres to the south-east of them. These were similar looking dunes, and as we ran down them we heard a deep zoom-zoom sound with each step. This was not a continuous sound, though, but a series of sounds, each individual sound caused by each individual footstep.

Noise from singing sand dunes, which have been reported in the Middle East for over 1500 years, have been described as “roaring, booming, squeaking, singing or musical” (Singing and booming sand dunes of California and Nevada). Qataris used to attribute these sounds to evil Djinns; similarly, Marco Polo, when he heard the sounds 700 years ago, blamed the sounds on evil spirits.

There is still some controversy over how exactly the sand dunes produce the sound (see The troubled song of the sand dunes) . However, it is certain that for the sound to be heard the sand needs to be put into motion. When the singing is heard, the sounds’ vibrations can sometimes be felt reverberating through your body.

For singing to take place, the sand must also be extremely dry – even the presence of 0.1% moisture will reduce the effectiveness of the singing. This could explain why we heard nothing, as there has been heavy rain this year, and truffles are still growing in the desert.

Whether or not you hear any singing, there’s great fun to be had running down the sand dunes. the sand. In addition, you can see small lizards scamper along the surface of the dunes. Move towards them, and they’ll dive below the surface of the dunes. When there are no lizards, you can see thedesert flower trail left behind them – a line made by their tail with footprints to either side.

When it is windy, you can also observe sand blowing off the back of the sand dunes, creating what appeared to be a lip of blowing sand – with blue sky showing beneath. The sand grains will settle on the back, contributing to the growth of the dune.

On the way to the singing sand dunes you’ll see thorny desert trees – and, at the moment, wild oats growing to the side of the road. Around the dunes you’ll also find small desert plants with thorny leaves and small, bright yellow flowers.

The area is very photogenic, and a great place to add rolling sand dunes to your photo collection. It’s worth staying until sunset, when the sun descends down over the dunes. You’ll also hear and maybe see some desert birds. And you might even hear those bloody sand dunes...



Sunset in the desert
Also see:

The Singing Sand Dunes: directions


City-swallowing Sand Dunes

Singing and booming Sand Dunes of California and Nevada

The troubled song of the sand dunes

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