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Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Top Ten Websites in Qatar

We are going to exclude our own website from this list - obviously we believe we are in the top ten:) but it would still be rather presumptuous to include ourselves.

We are going purely on personal taste here, and we are deliberately ignoring factors such as ranking in the Search Engine Results, Alexa or traffic. Although Google is quite simply the best search engine there is, we often disagree with Google on which sites are the best - for example, although we love the BBC, we don't think its sparse 900 words on Qatar deserve to rank in the top ten. Similarly, in our opinion, Qatar Airways, while of use to someone who wants to book a flight with them (assuming they have no desire to compare prices with any other airline), does not deserve to rank number one.

The web!The Web: Visualisation by the OPTE Project

1. Qatar Living: This is our all-time favourite, and despite what we said about not ranking traffic probably does have the highest traffic of any website in Qatar. We like it because it is a place you can (almost) always get a response in seconds, and because of the wealth of local knowledge it offers. We also respect the fact that on the rare occasions users have ripped off our articles, the owners of the site have dealt with the matter in minutes of being contacted. As a good proportion of the people I know use the website on a regular basis this has to get the top spot. Last not least, the website's users have been very active in charity, actively raising money to help other Qatar residents in trouble.

2. I Love Qatar: Amnesia, the half-Qatari half-British owner of this website attempts to share a Qatari perspective with his readers - although obviously he also has a British sense of humour! While critical of Qatar bashing, he is not averse to criticising Qatar himself on occasion. Like Qatar Living, Amesia's site and community has also been very much involved in charity.

3. Doha Map: This is a great little site which is taking advantage of Google Map's open API to create an interactive Doha map. You can search for locations, display different types of landmarks or even add your business.

4 & 5. The Gulf Times and The Peninsula: I read both of these on a regular basis, and I can't really decide which is better - they are both great newspapers!

6. Qatar Embassy: I have often found useful information on this site, and have frankly find it better than any of the government sites in Qatar!

7. Alhannah: This is a Wiki site run by Carnegie Mellon University, and has tonnes of useful information on it, all added by its users - you can add to it too. For the same reason we also rate the Wikipedia page on Qatar, although some of the other "stub" pages on Qatar don't deserve the ranking they get, and sometimes get things wrong: see Al Jaber and Wikipedia.

8. Heritage of Qatar: This superb website lists all the heritage sites in Qatar, complete with information about each site and directions on how to get there. They also have a good history section.

9. Araboh.com - E-commerce has come to Qatar with this little website, which provides Arabic language books for children. I always admire anyone who has the guts to start their own business, and the young and female Iraqi/British founder, who is just 21 years old, set this one straight after leaving university. According to Google, the MENA area (Middle East and North Africa) is not quite ready for e-commerce yet, but with a larger market than Qatar this little site should do well.

10. Al Jazeera: This comes towards the end of the list, not because it is not a great site, but because it is not really about Qatar, just based in Qatar. Still, Al Jazeera is something Qatar can be proud of opinion - any news programme which is despised by all sides (it has come in from criticism from the West, who may have considered bombing it, from other Arabic countries and by Al Qaeda - in fact one of the few countries in the Gulf which has not expelled the site is Israel) has to be good.

Near misses:

I really like Amiri Diwan - the official website of the Amir is both attractive and contains interesting information about Qatar and its ruler. It doesn't work on Firefox, though, or on Safari, meaning I can't access it on my Apple. Doh!

Experience Qatar - I seem to remember this was once a good website, but as it has been blocked I can't tell. I believe this was taken over by hackers at one point - assuming control was never regained, one has to wonder why on earth it ranks so highly for the search term Qatar.


We have not included blogs here: see Best Qatar Blogs and Qatar Blog Update (both now out of date, I'm afraid) for that.


I still think the web in Qatar is underdeveloped here, but maybe I am missing something. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment here - I am quite happy for this list to become the Top Twenty Websites in Qatar, or even the Top One Hundred Websites in Qatar!

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