A Qatar Guide for Tourists and Residents
Home   Qatar   Doha   Contact   Qatar Jobs   Qatar Map   Request

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Qtel To Upgrade their Internet Network

At last Qtel plan to upgrade and speed up their internet connection. (Good job they didn't announce it tomorrow or I would have thought it was an April Fool's joke!)

At least I think it isn't an early April Fool's joke - the work is due to start tomorrow.

We've been a big critic of Qtel's slow connection and slower service - see 200 KBPS a Perfect Lines Says Qtel.

However, give us a fast working connection and we could become Qtel's their biggest fans. (Telephones that are answered in ten minutes instead of an hour would also be a bonus.)

The plan involves short term disruption, but if they keep disruption to half an hour at a time as promised it will be well worth it.

After being rejected as one of Vodafone's first 100o customer's, I might even stay with their mobile phone service!

You can read the full story on the Gulf Times site!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Qatar Visitor Friends

Qatar Jobs

Doha Hotels


Monday, March 23, 2009

IT Nut to Race Across Desert

IT wizard and running fanatic Martin Taylor is getting ready to run across the Sahara desert after months of traning in the Qatar desert.

Martin left his high powered job in Holland in February and came to Qatar in search of a new life and adventure. Now he is preparing for the run of his life in the Marathon Des Sables, a 6 day, 151 mile run across the Morroccan desert with only the food the runners can carry.

Martin is doing this in aid of charity. The charity he is sponsoring is Facing Africa. Facing Africa supports victims of Noma, a ravaging and gangrenous disease which destroys the faces of young children. Facing Africa sends out teams of surgeons to Africa to rebuild the faces of these young victims.

To read about the charity and its work visit Facing Africa: Noma. You can also sponsor Martin on his run, or visit Martin's blog to follow his progress across the desert.

Noma - BBC report:

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lucky to be here..

Friday morning saw my kids and I floating on our backs in a swimming pool, looking up at a blue sky before enjoying a barbeque.

With daily reports of both dreary weather and economic gloom from home - 18 were made redundant from my sister’s office last week - I felt lucky to be in Qatar.

Qatar is not unaffected by the crisis. The property sector is buckling, and oil and gas prices have fallen to too low a level to justify the huge ongoing investment needed for the future.

The Emir himself has said that what we are seeing now are just the first signs of a global recession that will affect exporting as well as importing companies.

However, in Qatar, unlike much of the rest of the world, the recession does not dominate the conversation.

And unlike my own country, Qatar used the good times to build up huge budget surpluses - and it is not afraid to use it to support struggling home industries.

Huge investment is still going ahead, and there are no plans to cut government spending.

Qatar may well yet be affected by the recession - but right now, I feel lucky to be here.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Qatar Jobs

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nature Photography: Advice from the Experts

If you want advice on nature photography in the Middle East, there can be few better opportunities to get it than on the 1st April.

Hans and Jens Eriksen, photographers who have been based in the Middle East for the last 22 years but who have traveled to and photographed all seven continents, will be sharing some of their secrets with the Qatar Natural History Group.

The pair have won numerous photography competitions - including the Bird Photograph of the Year five times - and written 13 books about photography, and also run the website Birds in Oman.

For more information about the meeting download the QNHG flyer (pdf) or visit the Qatar Natural History Group website.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bransons helps Qatar Get Futuristic Cord Bank

This has just been emailed to me by a pregnant and very impressed friend.

According to Scientific American Qatar is setting up a progressive and futuristic cord bank.

The bank will store stem cells, when mothers give their permission, from the umbilical cords of infants.

A portion of those stem cells will be kept - potentially helping the child with future medical problems.

Other cells will be kept in a national bank for use for the general good.

Named the Virgin Health Bank, the project has been set up with the help of British Entreupeneur Richard Branson, who noted that it could quite quickly become larger than the UK's bank.

See the full article for more information.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, March 16, 2009

I was sent an interesting invitation to a discussion on extremism and madrassaha. I checked with the organisers, and this is not a private event (although pre-booking is required). I also had there permission to post it here. You can also check out the Brooking's website here.


A Brookings Doha Center Policy Discussion with:

Saleem H. Ali

Visiting Fellow, Brookings Doha Center

Robert G. Wirsing

Visiting Professor, Georgetown School of Foreign Service Qatar

Moderated by

Hady Amr

Director, Brookings Doha Center

Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

6:00 – 8:00 pm

At the Brookings Doha Center

West Bay, Doha, State of Qatar

This Brookings Doha Center Policy Discussion will focus on the perceived nexus of education and extremism in Pakistani madrassahs. Dr. Saleem H. Ali, the first visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and the author of the recent book Islam and Education: Conflict and Conformity in Pakistan’s Madrassahs (published in 2009 by Oxford University Press), will discuss his research on Pakistani madrassahs, potential links these Islamic educational institutions may have to the rise of militancy in the region, and the perceived ongoing conflict between Islam and the West. He will be joined by Dr. Robert Wirsing, who is currently a Visiting Professor the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar and has conducted extensive research on Pakistan as well.

Attendance requires pre-registration. To reserve a place for yourself and/or a guest, please RSVP with the names of those who wish to attend to DohaCenter@Brookings.edu or call the Brookings Doha Center at +974-4227800. Simultaneous Arabic translation will be available.

The Brookings Doha Center is a project of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Launched in 2007, the Brookings Doha Center undertakes independent policy-oriented events and research on the socio-economic and geo-political issues facing the Muslim world, including relations with the U.S. http://www.brookings.edu/DohaCenter

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dodging Sweets in Qatar

Qataris are proud of their hospitality, and you will almost certainly be offered refreshments when doing business or socialising.

Turning down these refreshments is rude.

Unfortunately, Qataris also have a sweet tooth.

Much of the food you are offered is likely to be sugary drinks, donuts and cakes.

I'm always dodging these foods when I can, and sometimes sneak sugary cans into my bag when I am left alone. There are times, though, when it is not possible to avoid them.

It's a shame, because while most Qataris are a jolly and friendly people, they also suffer from a very high level of diabetes. And it was when a Qatar acquantaince recently got gangrene from complications arising from diabetes that I remembered just why I was so fussy about my diet.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Qatar Visitor Competition Winners in the Gulf Times

The winners of our latest competition have been featured in the Gulf Times.

The article by our editor, Philip Beech, shared the judge's comments on why the photographers won as well as showing off their talents with their winning photographs.

You can read the full article here

You can also see more of the superb photographs entered in our photo updates here and here.

We are running a smaller competition this month, but you can still win one of five Amazon Vouchers just for leaving a comment about one of Qatar's hotels in the hotel review section of our website.

To keep up to date with Qatar Visitor's competitions make sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Below: Dune Tracks by Shabir Hussain - just one of the superb photographs entered in February's Photo Competition. 

A car drives through an immense desert.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Monday, March 09, 2009

Crackdown on Private Taxis

Like most people I know, I have used a private taxi from time to time.

When you have been waiting in the baking hot sun for half an hour, you are not in the mood to turn down a ride in favour of that elusive Karwa taxi.

Perhaps it is possible to order Karwa taxis now. I have twice ordered a taxi and not had it come, despite giving 12 hours notice. However, that was several years ago, so perhaps their service has improved.

There is now a crackdown on private taxis, and, according to the Gulf Times, over sixty have been confiscated.

The taxis are taking a big risk. Not only can they be fined - and now, it seems, lose their car - their insurance, in the event of an accident, will not be valid.

Although what they are doing is illegal, I can't help feeling sorry for people trying to make a bit of extra money on the side - and, at the same time, providing a valuable service for some very hot and sweaty customers.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Qatar Books: Then and Now

Then and Now: Book CoverThe sequel to Qatar Narratives, a book detailing the lives of women based in Qatar in their own voices, is due to be launched this week.

The book, entitled Then and Now, will focus on both men and women's perspectives on the incredible pace of change taking place in Qatar.

As with Qatar Narratives, Then and Now is edited by Mohana Rajukumar and Carol Henderson and has been spsonsored by the Waqif Art Center, and follows on from a series of writing workshops.

While waiting for the book to come out, you may be interested in reading our original review of Qatar Narratives, which you can find in our book review section.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Qatar Football: The Italian Opera

by Wanderer

They came, they saw, and they left us completely in awe.

AC Milan, on their second trip to Doha in 110 years, did what only a few others before them have managed to do in Qatar – bring together an excited, chanting, colourful crowd to a sporting event. The game was well contested by Al Sadd and the final result, 2-1 in favour of the Italians, was just.

Doha Asian Games scenes?

In scenes reminiscent of the Doha Asian Games football final between Qatar and Iraq, the Al Sadd Stadium filled almost to capacity with star-struck fans of the Italian giants. The flow of love for Al Sadd’s outgoing captain Jaffal Rashid was not any less. The raving chants and the beating drums reverberated throughout the venue, modelled along the lines of Manchester United’s home stadium.

Enter the teams

The players from the two teams filed into the field for a 30-minute training session amid catcalls and standing ovations. They obliged the crowd with deft passes and lavish waves of hands. Beckham, ever the perfect gentleman, was the most interactive of the players. And then finally, the moment of truth arrived.

Slow start

With two of their biggest Brazilian stars – Kaka and Ronaldinho – on the bench, the Italians started slowly. They took time to establish their rhythm. When they did, it was more like a slowly building up opera rather than the team’s more familiar ‘instant rock-and-roll’. David Beckham produced some magical moments up front while Paolo Maldini took care of their defensive needs.

Pato, Mohammad Golam and Luca Antonini…

The trio made the farewell game memorable. Brazilian sensation Pato struck in the 16th minute, just as Al Sadd were settling down. He instantly made the game come alive. The first goal inspired the fans to try out several attempts at a Mexican wave, which never materialised.
Mohammed Golam pulled his club level in the 36th, if only for under a minute. Luca Antonini scored the winning goal of the day soon after.

No mean feat

The Italians may have taken the game easy, but their failure to score a third goal, in 53 minutes, speaks volumes about Al Sadd’s resilience. They played with heart and ended the game with their heads held high. Al Sadd were initially intimidated, but they gradually caught on. Although they tried hard, an equaliser was not in their stars.

Football is the winner

AC Milan may have won on paper, but the real winner was the beautiful game. It kept its audience spellbound for almost 95 minutes in a scenario begging to be replicated. The game was enough proof that good matches attracted big crowds. It should act as an eye opener for local authorities. If it succeeds in doing so, then one can safely call the AC Milan game one of the most important football matches in recent memory.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

W Hotel Opens, hosts AC Milan

The W Hotel has opened its doors in Doha and it's wasting no time in getting down to business, hosting the AC Milan football club. 

The hotel is located in West Bay: according to the website this is a place where  desert dunes soar next to towering skyscrapers... 

In fact, West Bay is probably going to be more attractive in the future than it is now - the presence of the nearby Pearl should ensure it remains an exclusive area - but I am not sure when they are going to shift the soaring dunes to the area! 

At least those who like skyscrapers shouldn't be disappointed, as there is a good view of Doha skyline from Westbay. 

If you do to stay at the W hotel , you might considering writing a quick hotel review of them here. You may also want to check out our Doha hotel reviews - and rest assured that we do not invent soaring sand dunes!

Enter our hotel review competition and win one of five Amazon vouchers.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Qatar Football: The Italians’ Desert Safari!

by Wanderer

In less than 36 hours, Qatar will get their second taste of vintage Italian football.

For only the second time in their 110-year-old journey, Italian giants AC Milan will visit the country for a friendly game, against local powerhouses Al Sadd. The match, scheduled to be played on Wednesday at the club grounds, is organised as a testimonial event for their long-serving captain Jafal Rashid Al Kuwari. The only other time AC Milan has visited Qatar was in December 2002, when they locked horns against a select Qatar national side.

Final Game for Beckham?

AC Milan, the eighth wealthiest club in the world, will field their first-string team in Qatar. It’ll be a rare treat for Qatari fans, who will see the past – Ronaldinho and David Beckham, the present – Kaka, and future –Pato, all on their favourite ground. With his return to the MLS League looming nearer, this could also be Beckham’s final game for the Italian side. All these factors have whetted audience interest considerably.

Qatar are no strangers to international football stars in their midst. The Qatar League, which started in 1974, has seen many of the world’s prominent players in it. Former Argentinian superstar Gabriel Batistuta, Brazilian World Cup winner Romario and Dutch twin sensations Frank and Ronald de Boer have all spend a part of their career here.

Promoting the Country

AC Milan’s trip to the country is not surprising. Qatar, with their ambitions of becoming the Middle East’s sports capital, has always encouraged staging of high-profile events. The football game at Al Sadd is just the latest in a series of steps taken to project the country as a favourable destination for big events.

From a marketing perspective, the AC Milan clash has already become a successful. Ticket sales have been brisk and the cash registers have not stopped ringing. If the initial bookings are any indication, the stadium will resemble the final of the 2006 Doha Asian Games, where Qatar beat Iraq to win the gold medal for the first time in history. On Wednesday, all roads will lead to Al Sadd Stadium.

Poor Timing for Al Sadd

However, from the club coach’s perspective, the timing of the game could not have been more unfortunate. Al Sadd, who are engaged in a three-way battle with Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa for the Qatar Stars League title, has lost their focus. They lost to Qatar SC 1-3 in the League last week.

“We have a very young team. I suspect that they had been thinking more about their game against AC Milan, which led them to lose focus on the field against Qatar SC. We paid the price for it. The League is at a crucial and decisive phase now and we cannot afford to make mistakes. I hope that my boys can do better in the remaining matches,” he had said at the post match Press conference.

Improving Standards

Even at the youth level, several international teams including Chelsea, AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid have visited and played friendly games against ASPIRE Academy students. Football aficionados in Qatar will fervently hope that the AC Milan visit will open the floodgate for more European teams to visit Qatar. In addition to attracting a good crowd, it could go a long way in improving the game’s standard in the country.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Qatar Nightclubs: Members Only Please

Getting a drink in Qatar may no longer be so easy for the thirsty foreigner.

New rules in Qatar Clubs mean that membership is now often a requirement for a hard drink.

According to the hotels:“From March 1 there is no such thing as a ‘guest’ at a nightclub in Qatar”.

Qatari women will not be allowed in the clubs - nor anyone wearing national dress.

The rules were put in place after discussions with the Ministry of the Interior.

It also means that employees newly arrived in the country will have to wait until they have an id card before they can join a club or obtain an alcohol permit.  

This process can sometimes take weeks. 

Which means for those who like a stiff drink, the only option may be a stiff upper lip.

Check out our bar reviews or rate bars yourself on our Qatar bars and Clubs page.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Qatar Photo Competition: Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition. The winner is Sadik, by Immanuel Serdoncillo. You can see the rest of the winning images as well as the judges comments on our winner's page.

Arab man with falcon

AddThis Social Bookmark Button