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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Qatar School Term Delay - Parents Protest

Parents are in turmoil this week over a decision to move back Qatar school terms a week - and things could be about to get worse.

The decision, it appears, was taken to allow a gap between children returning to Qatar and returning to school, with the hope that anyone developing the H1N1 virus would do so before they could spread it to other children.

The announcement was made at the last possible moment, so that parents timing their arrival in Qatar with the opening of schools would not delay coming back. The announcement applies to private as well as state schools.

Predictably, this has aroused a storm of protest - many parents will be at a loss at what to do with their children during working hours, especially at such short notice.

I'm in two minds myself - I have no desire for my children to get the virus, and appreciate the reasons for delaying the school term, but then I'm one of the luckier ones - my wife doesn't work. If she did, we would be in a right mess.

I certainly have no desire to stay long into the summer so that my kids can finish the school year.

My children, I am sure, will have their own strong opinion when they are met with an injection on the first day of school - for my daughter, the first day of school ever!

Needles send them hysterical - as they do many other small children. I do not envy either the children or the teachers involved in the mass vaccination.

However, things may be about to get worse.

Rumours are that the term is about to be put back another week again.

Which would really mess many people up.

And, after the long summer holidays, may even drive my wife potty.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Scorpions in Qatar

A scorpion rears its tail.

In our latest article France Gillespie takes a look at the scorpions that inhabit the Qatar desert in their thousands. These small inhabitants are responsible for hundreds of bites every year, although, fortunately, fatalities are extremely rare.

In addition to an in-depth look at scorpions, Fran looks at how to avoid getting bitten by the creatures - and what to do if you are bitten. Check out Qatar Scorpions for more information.

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View more articles about Qatar's Natural History.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The England Brazil Face-Off in Doha: Articles

Also see: Qatar 2022 Bid

With confirmation that England are to face off against Brazil in Doha in October, despite the Qatar football association remaining very quiet on the topic, Tim Sturtbridge assesses the relative merits of the two teams. See Football’s elite descend on Doha as England take on the boys from Brazil.

We have also provided a guide to the game - Check out the England Brazil Face Off in Doha for information on everything from which stadium the teams are playing in to where English fans can get and English breakfast in Qatar.

Also see our blog post, Brazil England Football Match in Qatar, for our take on how Qatar will cope with the sudden influx of thousands of English football fans into their conservative Islamic country.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


We'd like to welcome Vodafone, our latest advertisor, to our website.

The arrival of Vodafone in Qatar has completely stirred up the telecommunications industry in Qatar - and is probably why you are getting promotional texts and telephone calls from Qtel every few hours!!

It's also a great step forward for Qatar.

For the first time in the country's history, mobile phone users have choice.

An innovative new series of packages are already available, Vodafone is rolling out stores across the country and, like the rest of the world, we should soon be able to enjoy the Apple Iphone.

Vodafone is celebrating its roll out with a number of special offers, from a free My Number worth QAR 500 to free mobile internet for the month of September - check out their website for more information!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Qatar Living Photo Competition

We are not the only site to be holding a photo competition - Baldrick 2 Dogs has announced another Ramadan Photo competition over at Qatar Living.

All competitors must, however, have a Qatar Living ID.

You can see the full details on Qatar Living here.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Images of Ramadan - Qatar Photo Competition Update

We've put together a few of the images submitted so far in our Ramadan Photography Competition. In our opinion all of these images contain some of the spirit of Ramadan.

Note - this list was not compiled by our judge, so the winning images may be quite different.

Moments of Prayer

by Bridge Alkayde

The different stages of prayer are caught in this superb image.
Holy Book
by Eman Zainudeen

A child raises the Koran to her lips in an act of devotion.
Ramadhan Dove

Image by Alan Holden

A dove is caught in profie against a sinking sun - over the pinnacle of a mosque.

Prayer in the Mountains

by Anindya Prithwish

A man raises his hands in prayer against the backdrop of a snowy mountain.
Ramadan Profile

by Fatim Alalawi

A girl is profiled against a backdrop of blue, her head bent over a Koran.
Click here for a larger image.

Prayer of Religion

by Isa Ebrahim

A boy kneels in prayer on the floor of a mosque.

by Hussain Khalaf

Studying the Koran in a mosque.

Bedouins pray in the Desert.

by Aurelie Korady

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Brazil England Football Match to take Place in Doha

A couple of months ago we reported that England could be playing in Qatar against Brazil.

The Qatar football association reported that the match would take place if England succeeded in qualifying for the world cup.

Wednesday saw England doing just that.

Wahabbi Qatar to Meet UK Football Fans

It now seems likely that October will see a huge influx of English football fans into this conservative Islamic country.

Qatar, though far more liberal and tolerant that neighbouring Saudi, practises the strictest form of Islam, Wahabbism.

Many women still cover their faces from public view with black veils or masks, while Muslims who get drunk can be lashed and deported. Meanwhile, "bad smelling" and "badly dressed" Asian labourers are barred from places where they could spoil the view of families relaxing on the weekend.

England football fans, on the other hand, are famous in Qatar for their drinking and fighting.

The Qatari police have little patience for yobbish behaviour in this well ordered country. But Qatar will also have a lot riding on this match.

Future World Cup

Qatar successfully held the Asian Games in 2006.

However, this tiny but very rich country has its eyes on bigger tropies.

Qatar bid for the Olympic Games, and was miffed when its application got booted our early despite being rated high on a technical basis.

The country also has its eyes on a future world cup, and there is little doubt that relevant bodies will have their eyes on Qatar when it holds this friendly.

How it handles belligerent fans could well have an effect on its success at holding larger sporting events in the future.


Things get even more complicated with alcohol.

In Qatar, as we explain in our article Qatar Alcohol, a special permit is needed to purchase liquour outside a few hotels and clubs.

Even buying alcohol in those clubs and hotels can be tricky.

Recently one girl was turned away from a hotel with the explanation that her tourist visa was not sufficient to buy alcohol there. She would only be allowed to buy alcohol in the hotel she was staying at.

England fans, on the other hand, are going to expect alcohol, and lots of it. They may also be unhappy with the price of beer in Qatar, which can easily be three-four times the price of beer in the UK.


Qatar may also be hard pressed to accommodate an extra 10,000 souls.

In the Asian Games, despite chartering three cruise ships, journalists ended up sleeping on people's floors.

There are now more Qatar hotels (see our Qatar hotel guide for details) but this country of less than two million may still struggle to keep up with the sudden influx.

Will for Success

However, despite the cultural differences, football mad Qatar is a huge fan of English football.

The country is also keen to promote itself abroad, both as a cultural destination and as a travel hub.

Despite the difficulties involved, the country will make all efforts to try and ensure the success of the game.

Let's just hope the English fans allow them to do that...


Check out our website articles on this topic, including Tim Sturtbridge's assessment of the Brazil and England Games and our Guide to Doha and the Match for Visiting Fans, as well as our chronicle of the confusion over football tickets with Where in Doha are the England Brazil football tickets?

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Renting in Qatar

The balance has turned in favour of tenants in Qatar recently.

An over-supply of property combined with a slow down in the economy has lead to plunging rents, and in contrast to the situation just a year ago it is a buyer's market.

That doesn't mean that there aren't pitfalls to be avoided, as Shabina Khatri found out while researching her latest article for us: Qatar Accommodation: Finding your Dream Home and Renting in Doha: Dos and Don'ts.

However, armed with a knowledge of some of the basic rules and regulations and by following Shabina's guidelines, your chances of finding a dream home without having a nightmare in the process should be much improved!

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Looking for Qatar Freelance Writers

We are currently looking for talented freelancer writers who are preferably based in Qatar or who have an in-depth knowledge of Qatar/Arab culture.

We are looking for people who can write to a deadline and who can adapt their writing to the internet.

If you are interested please contact admin@qatarvisitor.com . Make sure to send us an example of your writing!