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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Good Books on Qatar

This handy slideshow of books on Qatar includes travel guides to Qatar, books on doing business and finding a job in Qatar, customs and local food.

Want to read more about these books? Check out our book reviews.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No New Alcohol Permits at the QDC

Word is trickling into QatarVisitor about a new policy at the Qatar Disribution Centre, Doha's one and only off-licence.

Apparently, the QDC is not creating new alcohol permits at this time.

There have been rumours for months that the QDC is to be closed.

When we have questioned QDC staff members, they have just shrugged and said they don't know - they'd heard the rumours, it could happen tomorrow, but it hadn't happened yet.

The current ban on new permits is supposed to be a temporary one.

It could be a temporary move while the QDC tightens up the regulations - currently many lower salary members buy alcohol to sell on to non-permit members at vastly inflated prices.

We haven't heard yet whether they are renewing old permits - leave a comment if you know!

Also see: Buying Alcohol in Qatar

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bahrain GP Preview

A preview of the Bahrain Formula One. Click here to check out tickets and tours.

In just over a month the glamour of F1 arrives in Bahrain again. So what is new for this year?

No Refueling

The major change this year is that no refueling is allowed, meaning the cars have to carry fuel for the entire race and hence need larger fuel tanks. In these cars, no space is wasted, so bigger fuel tanks means bigger cars.

Size Matters

Some cars, such as the Ferrari, have been made longer and this affects their handling. In addition, the driver has to remember the extra length. As Massa said, "I mustn't turn in too soon after overtaking". Other cars are higher or wider and this could affect their aerodynamics.

First Test

Last week saw the 2010 cars emerge from their garages for the first time in Barcelona, Spain. While it is too early to judge form, Ferrari topped the lap times throughout, first with Massa and then with Alonso beating Massa's time.

"El Kaiser" Returns

Michael Schumacher (or "El Kaiser" as the Spanish press call him) posted a very respectable 3rd place on his first showing since his return from "retirement".

Surprise Second

More surprising was the second quickest time of the day by De La Rosa in the Sauber. This was his first outing for his new team after languishing as a test driver for MacLaren for several years. Plus Sauber have a new engine deal as BMW pulled out after their poor showing last year. They are also looking out for new sponsers.

Williams F1

How about Williams, Qatar's "local" team? (See our Williams in Qatar article on Qatarvisitor.com). Well, sadly, they didn't make much of a showing here but it's early days, they have two new drivers and a new engine supplier, so lets see how they do in Jerez.

The rain in Spain falls mainly in..........Jerez!

Testing here starts on Wednesday, 10th February. At the moment it looks as if there will be rain for some of the time. That should make things interesting! Your racing correspondent will be there.

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Heading to Bahrain? Check out our Bahrain hotel guide.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Flowers: The Thrifty Alternative

As Valentine's Day approaches, many of us men will be groaning as we reach deep into our pockets to buy some of Qatar's extremely expensive flowers.

The flowers are beautifully arranged, and, if carefully chosen, can last more than a week. But with a standard bouquet in Villagio costing QAR150 ($41), they're not cheap.

Viilagio bouqet

There is an alternative - at least if you are happy to get live potted plants rather than the cut ones which will shrivel up and die in the next ten days.

Head to Doha's Omani market (by the wholesale markets on Salwa Road) and you'll find a large range of plants.

Many of them are in flower.

Prices are a fraction of those of cut flowers, starting at QAR1, with many other flowers available for QAR2 and QAR1.5.

This being the market, of course, these price are before bargaining. Buy a few plants and you'll certainly be able to bargain yourself a discount - and spread some colour in your living room!

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Truffle Season in Qatar

We've just come back from the Omani market (where we have been photographing flowers for the Valentine's edition of our newsletter). While there, I was delighted to see that there were desert truffles for sale.

Truffles being cleaned at the Omani market
These delicacies are not sold every year - they only grow when there is enough rain. If you are the patient sort you can find truffles yourself.

Fran Gillespie, in her book Discovering Qatar, recommends looking for them either in the very early morning or at sunset, when slight rises in the sand produce a shadow indicating a hidden truffle.

(Update: you might be better off waiting until March, though. Qatari contacts advise me that the truffles pictured here come from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, and that the ones in Qatar are not yet ready!)

desert truffles

When you have got a few, it is best to shoot off home with the truffles as they like neither sun nor humidity. The Bedouin used to cook these in campfires or or boil them in camel's milk - but cow's milk will do just as well instead. Fran also suggests gently frying them in butter.

See Wholesale Markets in Qatar for more on Doha's Omani market.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010



The Qatar Philarmonic Orchestra will be holding a night of French and Czech classical music on Saturday Feb 6th, 7.30 pm at Aspire Zone Ladies Club.

Tickets can be obtained at Virgin Megastore in Landmark and Villaggio. They are priced at 200 QR, 150 QR, 100 QR, 75QR, and 50 QR. For information about the program, please email qpopr@qf.org.qa.

A second family orientated concert will take place later this month February 24th 2010 at Aspire Zone, Ladies Club, 5:00 pm, produced for and with children.

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