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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Qatar To Host Asian Cup 2011

Qatar will be the host nation for the 2011 Asian Cup, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced today.

Qatar was the only country from West Asia to submit a bid to host the competition and was duly awarded the event by the AFC ahead of today's Asian Cup final between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Jakarta.

AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam, himself a Qatari, said of the decision:

"I think it will be a great tournament. The Asian Cup from now on will be different from what we've seen in the past, in terms of organisation, in terms of popularity and in terms of standard. This is my promise to you."

Qatar previously hosted the Asian Cup in 1988 and along with Iran (1968 and 1976) is now the only country to host the event more than once.

The tournament will most likely be staged in January, as the weather in a July tournament would be too hot for the players in the Gulf state.

Qatar successfully hosted the Asian Games in 2006.

Qatar soccer

Weather in Qatar

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Qatar Sheik holds up British Airways plane

According to this MSNBC article, an Al Thani Sheik (the Al Thani family are the royal family in Qatar) held up a British Airways plane for several hours when he realised several female members of his family were seated next to men.

When other business class passengers in the plane refused to change places, he stormed into the pilot's cabin to complain.

Eventually, he, his family and his servants had to leave the plane. However, by this time three hours had passed and fifty furious passengers missed their connecting flights in London.

This story must sound strange to someone who has never lived in Qatar. However, many Qataris believe very strongly that women should not be exposed to strange men. This belief is so strong that many women cover their faces with black veils.

A common misconception is that is covering their face is part of their religion. In fact, when women undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca they are obliged to uncover both their hands and their face.

Families are also very concerned about honour. An insult to a women is an insult to their families honour.

Qataris are also not accustomed to people saying no to them. Most Qataris have servants, and expect instant service in shops and restaurants. A Qatari will not normally get out of his car at a corner shop or cafe - instead he will beep his horn until an assistant runs up to take his order.

In this holiday season Qataris, many of whom are now fleeing the desert heat, may have some difficulty in adjusting to different standards abroad - especially in countries where a more egalitarian culture exists.

Read more about Qatar Culture.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Qatar Hotel Rating System

The Qatar Tourism Authority has completed the first stage of its hotel rating procedure, Ame Info reported today. All the hotels in Qatar have been rated on factors such as service, room size and hygiene, and will receive their rating by the end of the summer.

The second stage of the hotel rating will see hotels rewarded with points for additional services rendered. The hotel rating procedure will be repeated on annual basis – and with 7000 hotel rooms currently under development, they are going to be kept busy.

Qatar Tourism Authority has stated that it wishes to avoid following Dubai’s route of over-hyping its hotel with six and seven star ratings, sticking instead to the standard five star rating.

Hopefully this will improve the standards of Qatar’s hotels, which can vary considerably – see our Hotel Guide for more information.


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another Uruguayan Football Player?

Qatar has, it seems, become rather fond of Uruguayan football players.

Sebastian Quintana has not only played in the Q-league for several years, he also now competes at a national level with the Qatar National Football Team.

He’s also one of their top scorers, playing a large role in Qatar’s victory over Iran in the finals of the Asian Olympics, in which he scored a total of four goals. He also saved Qatar from disgrace in the Asian Cup this month after Qatar’s star player Khalfan Ibrahim was injured: scoring a goal against each of the three countries that they played: Vietnam, Japan and the UAE.

Now it seems Qatar’s love affair with Uruguayan players may be extended According to Goal.com Al Sadd are hoping to snag Alvaro Recoba . Al Sadd, the richest club in Qatar (not surprising as they are sponsored by the members of the Emir’s family) and the recent winner of the Emir’s cup have offered a reported 3.1 million Euro a season pay check for the 31 year old “El Chino”, as the Uruguayan player is known.

Alvaro, who was once (briefly) the highest played player in the world, gained world cup experience with the Uruguayan National Team in 2002, and has gained over 50 caps playing for his country.

Also see:

Qatar Football
Our football blog: soccerphile.com

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer heat

When you walk out of the door on a hot summer day in Qatar the heat doesn’t just hit you, it slams into you like a Nissan pick up truck on a Doha roundabout.

It sucks the moisture out of you, and drains your energy – and melted the rubber off my car windows. You can hide in your air-conditioned house, but the air-conditioner can’t defeat the heat, just hold it off.

Not that we who can hide in air-conditioned houses can complain. You still see workers on the road, moving as slowly as they can, but any exertion in this sun and heat is hell. Some of the better companies train their employees how to deal with heat stress, but there is only so much you can do.

At least we have air-conditioners now. My former boss related how, in his village school, the children would move their chairs across the classroom as the day progressed to stay in the shade. At night they would sleep on the roofs of their houses – something that many immigrant workers still do.

It’s not surprising, then, that in the summer Doha becomes a dead town. Clubs also shut down, trips are delayed till the autumn, and roads become passable. Anybody whose anybody will do anything to get out of the oven in these hot summer months.

And that includes us. We will be taking our vacation, and the blog, though not dead, will be different. Even if we were going to stay here, it’s too hot to go and explore and take photos. Posts for the time being will be more focussed on interesting news and will be less regular.

We’ll back in September – with the cool we hope – and more posts.


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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Qatar Visitor Website

Ten months after we have started this project, our website is finally up. It’s a bit of a relief, as keeping the blog going at the same time as developing the website has been a bit of a strain!

In terms of the quantity and quality of the information provided on a travel guide website we hope to break new ground. Our aim has always been to provide all the information that people need to:

- visit Qatar
- decide whether to move to Qatar
- to settle in to Qatar

We have also provided information about the history and culture of Qatar, as well as images, sounds and movies.

We’ll be adding more to the website in the future, including a flash map (when it’s finished!)

Just like the blog, the website is totally free, and advertising will (hopefully) pay for all hosting and other costs.

So have a browse around – we’ll welcome any comments!


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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Qatar Exit Asian Cup

Qatar may have exited the 2007 Asian Cup with their last-gasp defeat to Gulf rivals the UAE but the team and coach Dzemaludin Musovic can leave Vietnam with their heads held high.

A stoppage time goal by Faisal Khalil gave UAE a 2-1 win over Qatar in Ho Chi Minh city.

Uruguay-born striker Sebastian Quintana netted his third goal in three Asian Cup games from a re-taken penalty kick just before half-time. UAE had the better of the second period with Saeed Alkas equalizing on the hour mark before Faisal Khalil's late, late goal sank the young Qatari team.

Both Qatar and UAE failed to make the second round as Japan and hosts Vietnam progressed from Group B. Amid wild scenes in the Vietnamese capital, the home team reached the knockout stages despite a 4-1 hammering from the defending champions, Japan.

Qatar Football

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Asian Cup Soccer Qatar 1 Vietnam 1

Despite going a goal down in the first half, Qatar were unlucky not to come away with more than a 1-1 draw with co-hosts Vietnam in My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

Qatar press reaction

Uruguayan-born striker Sebastián Soria Quintana was on target for the second match running after his last-gasp equalizer in Qatar's opening game with defending Asian Cup champions Japan.

Quintana scored in a second-half that Qatar largely bossed. The press in Doha lamented their team's inability to put away the game but are hopeful that Qatar will progress to the second round with a victory over local rivals UAE.

Qatar Football

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Qatar draws again

Once again Uruguayan-born striker Sebastian Quintana saved Qatar from defeat against Vietnam in their second game of the Asian Cup. Prior to the start of the games Vietnam were widely regarded as a pushover and Japan and UAE seen as the challenge to Qatar. However, buoyed by home support, Vietnam inflicted a surprise 2-0 defeat on the UAE.

Qatar went into the game today without two of their best players: Khalfan Ibrahim, the first Qatari to win the Asian Football Confederation player of the year award, is off due to injury while striker Hussein Yasser was enduring a one match ban after being red carded. Despite this Qatar dominated much of the game and was unlucky to concede an unlikely goal to Phan Than Binh. Luckily, the Asian Games champions equalised 11 minutes before time with a header from their South American striker. Their fate now hinges upon their performance against old rivals the UAE on Monday.

Also see: Qatar Football

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Qatar News: Housing

Could the housing boom be drawing to a close in Qatar? Qatar Journal reports today that over 2000 apartments are sitting empty in this city of sky-high rates. The owners, sucked into paying (and no doubt borrowing) large amounts of money, refuse to accept rents below their lofty expectations. They may be better advised to take what they can get now. With more high rise apartment blocks seemingly going up than are already up, and property coming on-line in the Pearl, this could be one bubble that is about to pop.

Certainly one major company has bailed out, according to a report by Arabian Business today. Bavaria City Suites, which we previously reviewed here, is an enormous apartment block in the centre of Qatar, providing more than 2000 suites and studios. Yet, and although letting has already started, the company has pulled out of the project stating scheduling and quality concerns.


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Monday, July 09, 2007

Qatar in draw with Japan

Qatar held defending champion Japan to a surprise draw in their opening match of the Asian Cup today.

Japan were favourites to win, but Bosnian coach Dzemaludin Musovic's strategy of concentrating on defence held them off for much of the game.

However, the Japanese took the lead in the 61st minute with a goal by Naohiro Takahara. The Japanese must have been feeling sure of their victory when, with only two minutes to go, Qatar's Sebastian Quintana equalised with a twenty metre free-kick.

Although the draw is an excellent result for Qatar, it was marred at the end of the game when Hussein Yasser was sent of with a red card during injury time for a tackle on Hideo Hashimoto. Even worse, Musovic was sent to the dressing room for protesting this decision.

Still, it's a great result for Qatar, and their chances must have been improved still further after Vietnam's surprise victory over Qatar's great rivals and Gulf Cup champions, the UAE.

Related Articles: Press Reaction in Qatar and Japan

Qatar Football


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Exit Visas

If you are heading off on your holidays, remember that you cannot get your exit Visa Services stamped at the Airport any more. Instead you need to go Al Gharaffa immigration, opposite the traffic police where you get your licence.

You need to go into the compound to the side of the building, in through Gate 3 and up the stairs to the first floor. Leave the stairs and walk straight ahead to get to the Exit Visas section.

If you are a man join a queue and hand over your form. (Women can breeze past the queue and get it done behind the counter.) A minute or so later you will be given a new form, which you must hand over when you leave the country. As before, the exit visa is valid for seven days.

This may not be necessary if your employer has a Smart Card. According to this article on e-government your employer should be able to obtain an exit visa for you in seconds. An multiple exit visa is also available, though at a cost of QR500 (the standard exit visa is free).

You can print the on-line application, or complete it online here. However, if you don't read Arabic you will need some help.

Exit permits are not required for children and female dependants.

Also see: Qatar Visas and Cancelling your Qatar Visa

Visa Services

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Friday, July 06, 2007

From the HSBC Qatar website:

Time Deposit Account

Eligibility:

Resident and non resident individuals
So, who is not eligible?

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Death and Funerals in Qatar

Yesterday I went with some friends to pay respects to the family of an acquaintance who died this week.

In Qatar and other Gulf countries it is very important to pay a visit to the family of deceased people you know. Whereas in the West a person may be given space and privacy, grief in Qatar is a more communal affair.

When we arrived, my acquaintance had already been buried. Muslims should be buried as soon as possible, and this is normally means on the same day. Before being buried, their bodies are washed. Prayer (D’ah) takes place, but this is not the sholat, where people bow and prostrate themselves. Prayer instead takes the form of chanting verses from the Qu’ran.

After a person dies, their eyes will be closed and their body covered with a shroud. Before being taken to the burial ground, their body will be washed. Only men may accompany the body to the burial ground.

When we arrived at my acquaintance’s house, we greeted his relatives. An introduction was muttered before we shook hands with people: this is his brother, this is his father, this is his grandfather. Other people arriving kissed, or touched noses.

An appropriate way to express your sympathy at these times is to say Athamah All’ah Ajakum. Essentially, this is an equivalent to the English “my deepest condolences”.

Only men were present at the house, although we were told there was a separate room for women. In addition to the usual segregation that exists in Qatar, women are not allowed to attend the burial.

After arriving we entered the majelis: a communal meeting room. Chairs lined the walls of this majelis, although sometimes there will be cushions. A majelis also often takes the form of a tent.

We were given a small cup and coffee was poured into the cup from a traditional Arabic teapot. The coffee we were served was qahwa sa’da – coffee without sugar. Dates are not normally served at the time of a funeral. As soon as we had drunk our coffee, the cups were taken and we were given tea.

Interestingly, the drinks were not served by a servant but by a member of the family. This is not always the case, but some families feel that they should serve guest themselves.

The atmosphere in the majelis was very serious. No-one talked. After a death, people should be solemn – this is not considered a time for chatting. Sometimes, to avoid frivolous speaking, parts of a Qu’ran are allocated to different people. The reading will continue until the entire Qu-ran has been read.

At other times a Muki’q – a person who recites the Qu’ran – will be brought along. When he is not available, a tape of the Qu’ran may be played.

It is important to read the Qu’ran and perform d’ah in support of the deceaseed at this time, as Muslims believe the deceased is now being questioned by the Angels.

After finishing the tea, we stood up. Once more we passed our sympathy on to the family, and shook hands. The whole process of paying our respects took about ten minutes.


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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

70 percent of youth deaths caused by road accidents

According to the Peninsula today a massive seventy percent of the youth's deaths in this country are caused by road accidents. It also takes a chunk out of the overall population, accounting for sixteen percent of all deaths.

The point was really brought home to me, as I came across the story when I was searching for news of an acquaintance. I heard today that he had been killed while crossing Al Sadd street in front of Royal Plaza.

I have no details of the accident, which was why I was looking in the paper. I don't know whether it was caused by reckless driving, or by carelessness on the part of my acquaintance.

Whether or not it was the driver's fault, blood money will have to be paid to my acquaintance's family. And traffic accidents aren't always the driver's fault - some pedestrians in Qatar are as much in need of training in crossing the road as some of the worst drivers are in need of driving lessons.

I saw one man struggling to cross the road with a large bill-board. The bill board faced the on-coming traffic so that his view was completely obscured. I've also seen women dressed completely in black crossing dark roads at the dead of night.

But the driving is awful too, as we've said many time in this blog. Many people shoot red traffic lights, which was the cause of a recent fatal accident outside the Hyatt Plaza. When I saw the remains accident, you could still see the dried blood on the seat of the car. Since that accident, I've learned to ignore the beeping horns of impatient drivers behind me when lights turn green. Waiting that extra second could save your life.

Also see:

Qatar Visitor's 90 Second Guide to Driving in Qatar

Qatar Driving

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Monday, July 02, 2007