- Population: 628,000 (UN, 2005)
- Capital: Doha
- Area: 11,437 sq km (4,416 sq miles)
- Major language: Arabic
- Major religion: Islam
- Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 76 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Riyal = 100 dirhams
The State of Qatar is an oil-rich, gas-rich state in the heart of the Arabian Gulf. But this rather redundant impression proves as shallow as the water supply here. The emirate might have the world’s third largest gas reserves exceeding 7 TRILLION cubic metres, but is a haven, nonetheless, of the old and new Arab cultures where the people are as traditional as they are tolerant. You will see among the history’s greatest tradesmen practicing the age-old friendly tradition of barter as today’s renowned suppliers of the 21st century energy source. And Qatar is remarkable and different that way. That said, the country is impervious to conflict or warfare as it leisurely coasts along to its brilliant future.
True enough, Qatar holds so much potential and surprises for the traveller whatever the preferences. We’re looking at a country of confluence of traditions and modernization as depicted by its posh metropolis and new-age infrastructures bordered by ancient deserts. Although there is much to contend about Qatar becoming too touristy and Disney-esque or an Arab country the world wants it to be, we’re talking about a deep arcane history of 6th millennium BC civilizations in Western Qatar. Nomads and seafarers since the ancient time, Qatar is now home to the best airline in the world, the Qatar Airways, as she deems necessary, of course, as she is in the centre of things. This is also a nation that currently owns the $2.2 billion-luxury London department store Harrods. Qatar is a dazzling Arab state in its own right, lighted or not, and amongst the best spots for single women as you will figure in a short while.
Qatar (25 30 N, 51 15 E) is an emirate with a total area of 11,586 km2 of mostly infertile gravel-covered desert land. The terrain is generally flat with only 103 metres for its highest surface in the nature of Qurayn Abu al Bawl. The Persian Gulf is a significant geo feature, in addition to the lowest point in all of Qatar (0 m). Despite being short of fresh water resources, they are one of the highest consumers of electricity and water per-capita per day, possibly because Qataris don’t pay for either. Green Alert: Unfortunately, Qatar ranks as the highest in carbon dioxide emissions per-capita for almost 2 decades now, three times larger than the U.S. emissions, due to the high energy use for natural gas processing, water desalination, and electricity.
The climate, as the terrain, is desert which attributes to its overall hotness and humidity. The mean temperatures during the summer months (June-September) range from 38 °C to 41 °C. Spring, when the desert wildflowers are in bloom, as well as autumn are warm and pleasant, among the best time for a visit. The best being winter as the climate is mild and cool with refreshing occasional rainfall from December to February, with January as the coolest month of the entire year. By and large, November to March is the best time to visit for the climate is at its mildest. Lightweight clothing of cotton and linen fabrics are highly suggested to be worn, and sweaters for evening the year-round.
In terms of clothing, the Qataris are distinguished from non-citizens by wearing the traditional Qatari national clothes. This is so because of a huge population of expatriates and workers that number more than 60% of the population. The most recent statistics count a population of 1.4 million, but what is astonishing is the proportion of the men against women (3.46:1). Hence, Qatar could feasibly be a utopia for single women because there is more than enough men to pass around.
Qatar is the odds and ends of cultures and peoples living together. The ethnicities of Qatar are as varied as the tribes that inhabited the Arabian region in the ancient times. So to make things less fussy, the locals refer to themselves simply as Qataris. As an Arab nation with a culture that is closest to Saudi Arabia in the whole of the Persian Gulf, the majority or 40% are Arabs. Indians form 20%, Nepalese, 13%, Filipinos, 10%, Iranians, 10%, and the rest are from South Asia and others.
ARABIC is the official language, whereas ENGLISH is widely spoken due to the large mixed international populace, therefore, the de facto second language. Other languages such as FARSI, FILIPINO, HINDI and other South Asian languages and dialects are also spoken by the expatriate populations. Arabic may be a handful, but learning some Arabic will impress and gain you favor with your hosts and other locals too.
Islam is the state religion claimed by of 100% of the Qataris since time immemorial, specifically the 7th century. Hanbali Islam is practiced in the state. Arab pagans that settled here were converted in an event thus called Islamization. Islam jurisprudence predetermines Qatar’s legal system. Christians are a minority that is more or less 10% of the population, and the remainder are factions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on. The wide spectrum of Qatar says, if anything, of the Qatari hospitality manifested by receiving and visiting friends and family.
The Qatari Tourism has been a successful undertaking towards the diversification of the economy. Albeit Qatar feeds on the fancy of the western world of a Disneyland-Arabia, the country is a beauty nonetheless. Doha is where it all begins for most, from an easy 6-hour-tour in between connecting flights, to a holiday vacation and shopping galore destination. It is a city of an exciting prism of activities. A city of anti-thesis and synthesis, tourist attractions, modern infrastructures, banking and shopping facilities, Doha is both capital and hub of the country. On the whole, most of the population resides in the capital. Al-Corniche is one such place to see in Doha where the seafront glistens against the fine and luxurious hotels and buildings. There are fascinating government buildings, museums, and libraries, and manicured parks, of all things. Look out for the Aspire Tower, the tallest games flame in history!
In the northern coast are the wonderful coastlines of Al-Khor where Qatar’s grand days of pearl-fishing are celebrated and kept alive, for once upon a time, in the early 20th century, their economy relied heavily on pearl-fishing – the culture Japanese cultured pearls killed. Given the country is surrounded by sea, Qatar made sensible use of this geographical advantage. That being said, water sports are HUGE in Qatar. The backpack traveller can play it semi-safe jet-skiing or risk it all out kite-surfing – proof that you can catch a wave in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf, of all places. But if the traveller prefers sand to saltwater in the eyes, stay on land for an adrenaline-gushing dune-bashing 4WD fun.
But never set in motion a day without a sensible breakfast at the Kebab King restaurant. World cuisines such as Indian, Pakistani, European, Thai (and so goes the list) have made Qatari cuisine ambiguous. But if there’s such a thing as a sane advice, it would be to eat Qatari because nowhere else is Qatari food better than here. Mezze dishes, kebabs, hummus, falafel, and other Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean/Levantine meals can be found in souqs or streets. And while you’re at it, try the McArabia. McDonald’s only makes it here.
Backpacking Addictz is a website set up by backpackers for the use of backpackers. On this site you will find a lot of very valuable backpacking information surrounding different destinations and countries from around the world.