Two of the most common questions posed to me lately are: “Where exactly is Qatar?” and “So when are you heading to Dubai?”
The second is perhaps understandable given the first. (For the record, Dubai is not part of Qatar, but rather a city state within the United Arab Emirates, one of Qatar’s neighbours).
Few people would be able to pinpoint Qatar on a map — in February last year, faced with a need to make a rather important decision, I wasn’t either. So, first things first, here’s Qatar in a map of the Middle East.
As you can see, the only country with which it shares a land border is Saudi Arabia.
A closer look at Qatar reveals that its capital, Doha, our future home, is positioned much like Dublin on the East coast, but with a very different aspect of the Persian Gulf versus the grey stormy Irish Sea!
This isn’t the place for a long, geography lesson, but some interesting points on Qatar from the CIA World Factbook:
- Population: 2,258,283
- Only 0.94% of the population is aged over 65 years.
- The highest net migration rate in the world, at 18.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
- Qatar has, since 2007, had the highest GDP in the world
- Satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera was originally owned and financed by the Qatari government but has evolved to independent corporate status; Al-Jaze (2014)
- Qatar, like Ireland, used to be part of the British empire, and gained independence on 3rd September 1971.
Qatar is a population primarily comprised of migrants from around the world. I thought this infographic, albeit a little dated, from Doha News gave an interesting insight into the country’s population composition.
This is the flag of Qatar.
Given the relatively recent development of Qatar and growth in Doha, it’s not surprising that its main attractions are still maturing and gaining importance. However, these are three attractions that I am particularly looking forward to seeing.
The picture at the top is one perspective on this amazing building, which I, for one, am looking forward to exploring in depth. My only experiences to date of Islamic architecture include the magnificent Mezquita de Córdoba and the Alcázar of Seville, all places that have left an indelible mark on my soul.
I can’t wait to learn more about the history of Islamic art and architecture over the past 1,400 years, and so this landmark building will be first on the family to-visit list.
Anyone who has ever travelled with me will attest that I am a market nut. I will travel for miles to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a bustling local market. My idea of heaven is walking through spice markets and taking in the sights of piles of dried fruits and pistachios.
Souq Waqif is already a favourite spot of Simon’s, and he tells tales of wandering through narrow streets, past cafés filled with patrons enjoying excellent coffee and shisha tobacco. I’m looking forward to joining him, and the multitudes of others, very soon.
Simon has described many hours walking along the famed seafront in Doha called the Corniche. A small step away from the Dun Laoghaire or Bray promenades, perhaps, in terms of perspectives! In a city that hasn’t really been developed for pedestrians, this seems like a rare opportunity to take a long stroll, with beautiful views of twisting skyscrapers and the famous Doha boats called dhows on the water.