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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Qatar Censorship and Google Safe Search

Qatar has gone for a new, more light hearted censorship image.

Here's the old one for comparison:

Humerous ads doesn't change the fact that censorship is really, really annoying. This time I was going to the website to check out a flash player I was thinking of having done for one of my websites - the last time I came across it was when trying to access a website about safe colours.

Qatar now also forces Google safe search on us.

Again the problem is you can be searching for something quite innocuous and have it be blocked.

I searched for this man, former Lord Mayor of London, and a character in a children's story and and pantomine.

No luck!

At least not in the search results. Ads, for some reason, are allowed!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Arab Net Goes Live

The Arab Net conference, the first of its kind and scale in the Arab World, has now gone live.

We've been blogging about it for a while, and for me it's been fascinating how they have managed their online pr.

They reached out to us - and many like us - knowing that we would fall for the gentle flattery of an Arab Net logo to put on our site and a link back from Arab Net. (Yes, we are susceptible to flattery - although we did pull back at the thought of doing three blog posts a day on the conference. We don't blog as much as we used to, and it would throw the balance of this blog just a bit out of balance!)

Keeping up with the Conference

You don't have to be at the conference to follow what is going on - you can catch up with the latest on Twitter.

Right now, Qatar is being well represented. If you look on the Arab Net Twitter stream, you can see Mohammed Nannabhay, head of online at Al Jazeera and a staple of the Qatar internet.

And if you have a fast enough internet connection - not always the case in the Arab world you can watch it live here: Arab Net - Live.

Boosting Interest

One of the things which the conference will hopefully do - and which I think they are trying hard to do by building up links with bloggers - is build up interest in the Arab network.

Things have developed enormously since I set up a blog several years but a lot of people in Qatar, at least, do just not take it seriously - even as Qatar Living grinds the newspapers classifieds into the dust!

I spoke to one website developer, and he told me that many Qatar businessmen still view the internet as a toy for children.

None of ICT's conferences have been full (despite the excellent food provided at the Sharq Village and Spa :) ) and I can see now that there are only 99 viewers on the Arab Net live streaming.

At ICT's conference of media there were experts with tonnes of advice for newspaper owners, but little changed.

If interest is not boosted Qatar is likely to be left behind in the next web boom!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Qatar Life Insurance

My life insurance in the UK ran out last year, and it proved a nightmare to try and renew.

What I wanted was a company in the UK to continue the insurance policy, but having lived several years out of the UK that didn't prove easy.

I investigated a couple of options in Qatar. However, I found that either the amount paid out was unsatisfactory, or that there were aspects of the terms and conditions which made me uncomfortable.

Eventually, I ended up in the ridiculous position of getting my uncle in the UK (a financial advisor himself) to find me a company which could provide life insurance.

I was fortunate that at the time I was looking for life insurance things in Qatar were changing.

Cowboy companies were being kicked out (I hear at least one went to Dubai!) and the Qatar Financial Centre was inviting quality firms to set up in the country.

After having problems finding a decent company ourselves, we are delighted to announce that one of these companies, Nexus, has taken an advertisement out with us.

As part of the deal, they have agreed to provide a monthly article on finance for expats - with a particular focus on Qatar.

You can read the first article here: Life Insurance in Qatar!

We hope you find it useful - and that if you are looking for life insurance you find the whole thing less of a maze than we did!

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Qatar's First Chamber Music Festival

It's an exciting week for Qatar music fans, as the Qatar Philarmonic Orchestra have their first Chamber Music Festival. The orchestra will be playing daily from March 23rd to the 26th at the Ladies Club in Aspire Zone

Tickets, which are priced at between QAR50 and QAR150, can be obtained at Virgin Megastore in Landmark and Villaggio or through Ticketing Box Office. You can find more information about the program by emailing qpopr@qf.org.qa.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Qatar Moto GP 2010

MotoGP Qatar 2010 Preview - Is Stoner back on form?

After total domination by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Fiat) through the previous training at Losail Circuit, Australian Casey Stoner put one over the Italian hero and put in the fastest lap of the week. Meanwhile the Spanish rider, Jorge Lorenzo, trailed well behind in 6th. However, Lorenzo is taking pain killers to cope with an injured hand which he said was making braking difficult. He later said that the preparation of the bike was "fantastic".

Qatar is once again the opening race of the season. Hopefully, this year the race will not be "washed out" like last year when a ferocious downpour forced the organisers to postpone the race for 24 hours. Not what one expects in the desert!

Rossi, the "Schumacher of MotoGP", is, of course, a multi-world championship winner, only Stoner having beaten him to the Championship 2 years ago. No one else seems to be in the running, although lap times were very close among the leaders and Lorenzo was challenging Rossi very closely last year.

The Qatar Moto GP race is unique being the only night race in the calender.

Day 2 Classification.

1. Stoner Ducati Marlborough 1.55.352
2. Rossi Yamaha Fiat 1.55.860
3.Davizioso Honda Repsol 1.55.880
4.Hayden Ducati Marlborough 1.56.116
5. Capirossi Suzuki .195
6. Lorenzo Yamaha Fiat .504
7. De Punlet Honda Repsol .505
8. Edwards Yamaha Monster .772
9 Kallo Ducati Pramac .767
10. Spies Yamaha Monster .780

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


John reports on the recent Formula One race in Bahrain.

Ferrari had the best possible start to the season taking the first 2 places.

New Boy on the block.

Fernando Alsonso took first place after cheekily overtaking his team mate at the first corner and later taking advantage of a power loss in Vettel's Red Bull car to take the lead. Massa (Ferrari) and Louis Hamilton (McLaren) were also able to pass the ailing Red Bull to complete the podium.

More a procession than a race.

Sadly, the race could not exactly be described as exciting. The new regulations brought in in 2010 2010 did not improve racing, in fact rather the opposite. The cars had to carry full race fuel from the start as refueling had been banned. This meant the only stops were for new tyres. What this lead to was drivers having to conserve fuel and tyres, meaning even less overtaking than before and consequently a fairly boring race, which was more or less a procession.

Schumacher disillusioned.

The main comment about this was made by Michael Schumacher, who said that it was impossible to overtake and that while these regulations remained in force, that was how it would remain. Having said that, Rosberg (Mercedes) was able to overtake Hamilton early in the race but the former World Champion was only able to regain it during the pit stops. Some other overtaking took place but was due to driver errors, such as Hulkenberg spinning.

As they started, so they finished.

Or more or less. Apart from Vettel's drop from first to fourth, the drivers mainly finished in the positions in which they qualified.

Carnage amongst the newcomers.

As might be expected, the new teams suffered all types of problems and failures and many failed to finish. Hispania suffered first but that was to be expected as they had struggled to make the start, had had a change of ownership weeks before the race and had not done any testing prior to arriving in Bahrain. Chandok spent most of Saturday sitting in the pits, so did not even know the circuit when he started. Actually, he still doesn't - he crashed on the first lap!

Williams didn't shine.

Sadly, Williams, the team with Qatar connections did not shine, Barrichello taking the last available championship point in 10th position. Hulkenberg, who had such a fantastic start to the weekend, looked as if he would out-qualify Barrichello but failed to live up to the early promise and did even worse during the race, with a spin which left him at the back end of the field with a slightly damaged car.

Some overtaking down the field.

Some people are dismissive of the teams lower down the grid but in recent years this is where there is more interest and action and Bahrain 2010 was no exception. Lotus proved to have the best reliability, not only did both its cars finished the race, which was its only target for the weekend but showed a respectable pace, a major achievement considering how little time they had to put the car together and the lack of testing.

World's second longest circuit.

Following a new section of track with 8 more corners being installed after the 2009 race, Sakhir now has the World's second longest circuit at just under 6.3 kilometers and lap times are around the 2 minute mark. Although perhaps slightly overshadowed by the newer Abu Dhabi circuit, the facilities are still excellent. It is a pity then that the racing cannot be more exciting. Something Qatar needs to bear in mind while modifying Losail circuit!

Starting Grid Positions.















14.De La Rosa












Final Placings.

1.Alonso - Ferrari

2.Massa - Ferrari

3.Hamilton - McLaren

4.Vettel - Red Bull

5.Rosberg -Mercedes

6.Schumacher -Mercedes

7.Button -McLaren

8.Webber -Red Bull

9.Liuzi -Force India



11.Kubica -Renault

12.Sutil -Force India

13.Algosuari -Toro Rosso



16.Buemi -Toro Rosso

17.Trulli -Lotus

18.De La Rosa-Sauber

19.Senna -Hispañola

20.Glock -Virgin

21.Petrov -Renault

22.Kobayashi -Sauber

23.Grassi -Virgin

24.Chandok -Hispañola

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Beating the Heat in Qatar

I'm sweating as I write this.

It's nearing the end of March and it's hot. We're told that it's going to cool down soon, but that will only be the prelude to the summer.

Cooling down in Aspire ParkOne girls uses the water spray at Aspire to cool down.

By the end of a particularly hot summer, the sea can be like hot soup.

The temperature in the city is only exacerbated by thousands of air-conditioners blowing out hot air into the city, paradoxically increasing the need for the cool air they generate inside!

(Sadly, the wind towers which kept Qataris cool in the past have all but disapeared!)

Many Qataris tell me, though, that they can deal with the heat - as long as its dry. It's when it humid that it becomes really intolerable.

With the immediate future looking quite hot, Sonya has come up with a very timely article on how to beat the heat in Qatar.

Have a read - and don't forget to let us know your own tips and tricks!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Arab Net Conference Getting Closer

The ArabNet conference kick off is rapidly approaching!

At the conference you’ll be able to connect with over 300 decision makers, investors, and entrepreneurs from across the MENA, Europe, and Silicon Valley who will be gathered discuss emerging opportunities in Arab web business.

Some of 40 speakers will include Samih Toukan, founder of Maktoob.com, acquired by Yahoo for over $150M; Russell Buckley, VP of Global Alliances at AdMob and Global Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association and Ghassan Haddad, Director of Internationalization at Facebook,

Participants will also be able to participate in 8 comprehensive panels each featuring 6 experts from the Arab World, Europe, and Silicon Valley, to discuss topics including Social Media, Content, Online Advertising, E-commerce, Startup Financing,.

Two competitions will take place on the first day of the conference. The first, sponsored by Aramex, will feature the regions most promising startups while the Ideathon, sponsored by Google, will star ten of the region’s most innovative business ideas.

If you anyway involved in the emerging Qatar net, this should be a great chance to network, rub shoulders with the giants, and hopefully come away with some great contacts and ideas!

Visit http://www.ArabNet.me for the Full Program & List of Speakers or to register.

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Second Wives

"I need another wife,' a Qatari gentleman told me glumly. "My wife is old now. But she won't let me have another one."

That was the beginning of a fascinating conversation!

"Every time I mention it she gets angry," he added. "She doesn't understand me!"

It's perfectly legal in Qatar to have a second wife, although it is not particularly common.

"How many men have second wives?" I wanted to know.

His friend shrugged.

"I don't know - maybe 15%? It's not a big deal."

I wanted to know if they needed a wife's permission. Rather than answering me directly they told me that a man would get married without his first wife knowing about.

"You only know about it when the man dies, and suddenly a woman turns up looking for her share of the money."

The problem, they both agreed, was money.

"You need 300,000 riyals to get married, what with paying for the party, finding a house, providing a servant for the house and so on."

It was a lot cheaper, they told me, to get an Egyptian or Asian wife.

The first gentleman cheered up remembering his friend who had forked out for a second wife - and regretted it.

"Big problems, my friend says. They are always fighting - and nagging him. If one has a car the other one must have a car just as good."

"If you have a second wife," his friend added, "you must keep her a long way from the first wife. If the first wife is in Doha, it is better that the second wife is in Al Khor!"

Also see our website article: Qatar Weddings

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Soccerphile Relaunch

As you may know, Qatar Visitor is one of a group of websites that include JapanVisitor.com, IranVisitor.com - and Soccerphile.com.

Soccerphile was our first site and was built in the days of the old web.

And it's now has now had a well overdue releaunch. (It'll be Qatar Visitor's turn someday!)

About Soccerphile

Old fashioned design or not, Soccerphile is a huge website employing dozens of freelance writers.

And in 2010 we are offering coverage of the South Africa 2010 World Cup: teams, groups, schedule, results, tickets, previews, stadiums, city guides, news, interviews, predictions, South Africa accommodation, flights to and in South Africa, cultural features, South African travel information, images of the country and in-depth analysis of what promises to be an unforgettable tournament.

Check out the website here: Soccerphile.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Double Kick Football

It's not a sport I've ever heard of before (and I had a look on You Tube before writing this post) but double kick football is coming to Qatar.

It's the second event this year to be held by Red Bull, and once again is sponsored by Vodafone and I Love Qatar.

Essentially, you have to score by kicking either backwards or in the air (sideways).

The event is going to take place on Friday 26 March at the Intercontinental Beach in Qatar, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM.


Double Kick
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Qatar Jobs on Facebook: 1000 Jobseekers!

It's really exciting to see that we have reached 1000 fans on Facebook now!

If you haven't seen or used our facebook page yet, you can check it out here: Qatar Facebook Jobs.

A selection of the days jobs are posted on Facebook, and there is also the chance to leave a few details about yourself for employers to see.

You have to be a member of facebook to join the group, but if you are it is a very convenient way to keep up with the latest jobs.

Click here to view the latest jobs on the site!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Future formula one race for Qatar?

by John


Following a visit by Jean Todt, President of the FIA (and former team boss of Ferrari during the Schumacher era), Qatar has a possibility of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix Race - but not for some time. As M. Todt explained at the time of his visit, there are already races in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

Other Motor Sport Competitions Possible.

The FIA also controls the World Rally Championship, the FIA Touring Car Championship and the FIA GT Championship and a round of one or more of these competitions could come to Qatar - and lets face it - these are actually more exciting to watch than F1 although they may lack some of its glamour and prestige.

Upgrading Losail Circuit.

Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation President, Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah said that improvement work was being carried out at Losail Circuit to bring it up to F1 standards, with safety being the prime concern.

F1 Testing at Losail Circuit.

Following completion of the current work and subsequent evaluation by the safety commisioner, Losail could be licensed for official F1 Testing. Following the disruption of testing in Spain due to rain, this could prove to be a winner. According to al-Attiyah, "after that we will be ready to be part of the F1 circuit".

Bahrain"not a white elephant".

Sheikh Abdulla al-Khalifa, President of Bahrain Motor Federation, who was also present at the meeting, dismissed claims that the Bahrain track was only used for the F1 race. He said 512 events were held there annually, both private and official.

GCC seeks more power.

Al-Khalifa also said "Finally the region has a great representation in motor sports and it's high time we played a role in the decision making process".

Get the Qatar name out there.

If Qatar really wishes to play a part in the upper eschelons of motor sport, it must get its name known and the best way to do this is sponsership. Already, other Gulf names have appeared on F1 cars and Abu Dhabi is sponsoring a WRC team and their name is very prominant on the car.

Come on Qatar!

So come on Qatar, what are you waiting for? You've got plenty of money, you are not the best known Gulf State and this exposure would assist your bids for other sporting events. If you need a global marketing executive - I'm available!

Also see: Williams in Qatar

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Qatar Visitor Friends

Qatar Jobs

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Desert Diet

In her latest article for Qatar Visitor Frances Gillespie gives a fascinating insight into the food of the Qatar bedouin.

Bedouin women eating.

It's a far cry from the Qatar of today, a country where there seems to be a fast food outlet every 100 yards.

Feasts happened, but for the greater part of the time the Qatari bedouin lived a life of scarcity, sometimes eating just one meal a day and surviving on unleavened bread, camel milk and the game they could catch.

For the full fascinating article and some great pictures, see Fran's Article: The Bedouin Diet.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Qataris: Good or Bad?

I've met a bunch of Qataris recently and they couldn't have been nicer - pleasant, friendly, polite and welcoming.

Which brought to my mind the many complaints I have seen and heard about Qataris and Qatar.

I think many (and I know some) are justified. I know there have been people who have been cheated in business, badly treated and even beaten (see our story on maids in Qatar.)

At the same time, if you read some people's contributions on forums and blogs, Qatar couldn't be more perfect.

So which is correct? Is Qatar a magic land of warmth and hospitality, or is every Qatari out to exploit foreigners?

Where's your focus?

If you look for bad things you will find them, and if you look for good things you'll find them too.

Qatar, like every other country I have even been or lived in, is a mixture of both.

Not every country and people is the same, of course. Culture and religion affects people values, the way they behave, and the way they react to situations.

(Many British people, for example, react to wherever they are by moaning and complaining, as if they were in the worst place in the world. This can offend residents, who often don't realise that the same people are exactly the same back home. Or indeed in any other country in the world.)

Cultural differences, vast though they may be, doesn't change the fact that some people are bad and some people are good.

So if you are coming to Qatar expecting only good, you will be disappointed. But if you come with an open mind, are tolerant of differences and are not too bogged down by your own culture, you will find a lot of good things and good people here!

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Arab Net Ambassadors

Arab net logo
Arab Net are looking for 'ambassadors' to spread the word about Arab Net and boost participation.

Participants can become volunteers and get free access to the conference. The most active ambassadors will get links to their websites and free access to the conference (without having to volunteer!) They will also be invited to an "Ambassador's" post conference party.

It's sounds like a fun job if you are into the internet, and there are different ways to participate (via Twitter, Facebook, blogs e.t.c.) To find out exactly what you have to do, what you get in return and how to become an ambassador, see the Arab Net blog.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Arab Net

We are really pleased to have been invited to cover the Arab Net conference on behalf of Qatar - it's very flattering, especially considering that we have been rather slack recently. (Running a jobs board taking rather more time than we initially anticipated...)

Arab Net aims to be the first international conference for the Arab world, but participants are not just limited to the Arab World, with speakers also coming from Europe and California's silicon valley (with Google and Yahoo among the participating companies).

The conference aims to take the most promising start up and ideas in the region and connect them with the incubators, angel investors, venture capitalists, established Internet companies,NGOs and influential bloggers who can help make those ideas work.

The conference will be taking place on March 25-26 - for more information check out the official site: ArabNet.me.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Doha Mums

Congratulations to Roxanne at Doha Expat Mums & Kids (now Doha Mums!) for getting her new website up.

Doha Mum's is now complete with a nursery guide for mothers, and now also comes with a blog. Future plans also include a newsletter.

The website still has a forum which is both friendly and helpful (so I have been told - obviously not being a mum I have not been in myself!) where you can talk to people. Alternatively, you can connect with them on Facebook.

If you prefer to meet people face to face you can do that too - Doha Mum's is having a launch party at Gympanzee on the 15th March.

Check it all out for yourself at Doha Mums!

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Friday, March 05, 2010


In the Qatar of old times, the tribespeople had no records of music to provide instant entertainment.

Instead they turned to traditional music, the Saamri.

It's a tradition of music and (often wild) dance - and also of superstition and jinns - which lives on until today, although not always with approval.

In her latest article, Yousra Samri explores Samri, the history behind it and the jinns and black magic that are said to be involved.

If you want to read, watch or listen to it, check out Saamri.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

QDC Update

Friends visited the Qatar Distribution Center yesterday and said that business was back to usual. Liquor permits are now being renewed and apparently are also being issued to new applicants again. That'll be a big sigh of relief to many Western expats!

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